Choral festival to demonstrate “The Power of Unity” in song

Four regional Canadian choirs will be teaming up with two soloists and a pianist to present “The Power of Unity”, a concert to be held this Saturday May 10th in Guelph. Drawing on nearly 70 singers from the Voices of Unity, the London Unity Choir, the Toronto World Unity Choir, and the Ottawa Baha’i Choir, the concert will feature a couple of song arrangements from each group as well as a dozen songs with all the participants singing together in harmony.

The concert is dedicated to the Baha’i school children of Iran who have faced increased persecution for their religious beliefs in recent months, and will include a song titled “Hands of Power” sung by a local Guelph choir with many children members. Other pieces included in the concert include traditional gospel spirituals, a song set to a piece by Mozart, and two African songs.

The result of many months of planning and rehearsing, “The Power of Unity” event will showcase spiritually-inspired music drawing on a range of musical styles and traditions, but with one common purpose: to uplift the human soul and promote unity. All four choirs credit the Baha’i teachings, which emphasize “music as a ladder for [the] soul,” as the impetus behind their formation. Much of their music consists of arrangements of Baha’i writings or prayers created by their own members or by well-known Baha’i choir directors, including Tom Price and Van Gilmer.

Voices of Unity, the organizing force behind the event, is a community choir which already draws on residents from many regions in Ontario, including: Niagara, Hamilton, Ste. Catherine, Burlington, Dunnville, and Simcoe. Kerry Marsh, choir director of the Voices of Unity, who collaborated with the other directors on music, will be leading the mass choir second-half of “The Power of Unity” event.

“We hope to touch somebody’s soul in a way that makes them think…what’s my spiritual purpose?” said Kerry Marsh about the goal of the concert. “That’s the gift that we as musicians can pass on.”

The show will also feature accomplished pianist John Ebata. Not only will Ebata accompany many of the choir pieces, he will also be contributing a number of original pieces of his own. Ebata has collaborated with the Voices of Unity at least twice in the past at concerts in Mississauga, Ontario that attracted more than 800 people.

Guest soloists for the evening will include professional singers Margaret Bardos of Hamilton and Alison Neale of Toronto.

The seed for the “The Power of Unity” event was planted at a Van Gilmer gospel workshop held last spring at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois which brought together Canadian and American participants. Present at that event were all four Ontario choir directors and many of their members. The connection and collective spirit fostered at that event created the desire for a wholly Canadian choir collaborative.

Bonnie Cook, secretary for the choir, said they chose Guelph for the location of “The Power of Unity” festival because of its central location to three of the performing choirs and their communities of interest in the hopes of drawing a large audience from the surrounding areas. In an impressive show of commitment, all 15 members of the Ottawa Choir, the furthest away, have promised to make the long drive to Guelph to participate.

“If this works out, then we’ll do it again…We’re always hoping to get bigger and better,” said Cook.

The concert on Saturday will be held at 8pm at the War Memorial Hall on the University of Guelph campus. Tickets will be available at the door. Click here for further details.