Kingston and Queen’s voices unite

Open Voices expose themselves in a new collaboration

Open Voices will be singing a cappella for the first time since the group was formed 13 years ago.
Open Voices will be singing a cappella for the first time since the group was formed 13 years ago.

Johnny Nash’s hit “I Can See Clearly Now” never sounded so good.

The Kingston community choir Open Voices will be joining Queen’s a cappella choirs Momentum and The Caledonias for their choir event Exposed on Jan. 25.

On top of being a new combination of choirs, Open Voices will be singing a cappella for the first time since the group was formed 13 years ago.

The troupe had a shared feeling of anxiety, but also excitement – unlike previous performances, they won’t have instruments to conceal any vocal mistakes.

Founder and artistic director Andy Rush helped organize the event. Rush was already familiar with both a cappella groups, but they had yet to join forces.

For Rush, the event serves as a teaching experience. One part of his job is ensuring the audience enjoys the show.

“I would say I’m a teacher first and a musician second,” he said. “My interest is in choosing repertoire and then trying to figure out how we can do this in a way that’s going to make it a fun show.”

The first rehearsal for Exposed took place this past Saturday and, even in its working stage, the performance was filled with energy and remarkable talent.

“When you see the Queen’s group mixed in with us that’s a massive, beautiful thing,” Rush said. “It’s amazing.”

Since Queen’s and the Kingston community often appear to be at odds, it’s an opportune time to be blending together so well.

The popularity of joining the group has reached incredible heights. Joining is like winning a lottery, Rush said, because the troupe is so competitive. Because of its popularity, a group for younger singers was created called Rabble Singing.

Momentum member Nicolle Domnik, a PhD candidate, couldn’t agree more.

Though the group was established in 2009, Domnik said it was really in the past two years that Momentum began to consciously involve themselves in the Kingston community. They’ve started to notice the positive effects.

“Those are two groups of people who might not have necessarily otherwise come together, and yet we are, and we’re having a really good time doing it,” Domnik said. Along with forging a connection with the community, these campus a cappella groups are also creating a positive atmosphere among students, she said.

“It is a brilliant form of stress release. I know there’s a lot of friendships that have come out of it that have gone beyond people’s time in Momentum,” Domnik said. “Within the group it’s definitely a really warm environment, everyone gets along really well.”

Bethany Knapp, head of external communications for the all-female a cappella group The Caledonias, also noted the artistic benefits.

Despite the recent popularity of a cappella resulting from pop culture hits such as and , a cappella isn’t a commonly-practiced form of art. Knapp said that these groups are culturally-enriching for students on campus.

“It’s a good way to introduce people to the arts,” she said.

Exposed takes places at Cooke’s Portsmouth United Church Jan. 25 at both 2 and 7 p.m.>


A cappella, choir, Event, Exposed, Open Voices, Singing

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