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Choirs from all over Ontario will fill Verner church with music

by Isabel Mosseler

After the International Plowing Match is over, everyone in West Nipissing may experience a bit of post-event blues as the tents are taken down and two years of a hard labour of love comes to an end. Cynthia Roveda of Sturgeon Falls and Fernande Beaudry of Verner have a musical cure, another celebration to inspire and elevate – the 39th Festival des chorales franco-ontariennes (Franco-Ontarian choir festival) to be held in Verner on September 27-28-29, culminating in a full performance on the Sunday afternoon at St-Jean Baptiste church in Verner.

The concert is free to the public, and Roveda, a well-known local music instructor, invites everyone to join in. This is the fourth time the festival will have been held in West Nipissing.

“This is the 39th festival. Rita Seguin from Kapuskasing started it, and she has been involved ever since, as president. Every year we invite all the community church choirs, and people who just want to sing, to come and join the festival,” says Roveda. “It’s in different locations every year – last year in Azilda – and this year in West Nipissing.” She adds that the choir singers do have some English songs in their repertoire, but as music rises and fills a hall, it also rises above language barriers, inspiring joy in everyone. “That’s important to get out, that this is for everyone.”

The 3-days of workshops are conducted in French, under the direction of choirmasters Robert Filion, of Ottawa, and Roveda. Singers have to register and there is a fee for the workshops. “They invite the chorus of the choir so whoever wants to come can come. We don’t necessarily get the entire choir… It’s collaborative. On Friday we warm up with our theme song.” This year, that song is Quand l’amour passe entre nos voix. “Then we start studying the repertoire as a group. We divide in sections, the sopranos, the altos, the tenors, the bass. We get together every once in a while, to review the pieces for the concert, which is held on Sunday afternoon.” Roveda says that each year the number of participants varies, but it usually ranges between 80 and 125 vocalists.

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