The Bruce Peninsula Spirit Singers at their Tobermory United Church performance this past summer.
Submitted by Barry Robinson

Paul McCartney once commented, “I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity – to see the faces of people devoting themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that.”

And that is precisely what you will see every Thursday night from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in Christ Anglican Church, Hall, Lion’s Head from March until November. As dedicated a group of people as you will find just about anywhere, devoted to the task of learning a new piece of music in order to share it for the enjoyment of other people.

This is our 30th anniversary year. It all started back in 1989 as an inclusive, ecumenical gathering of people who liked to sing. A small group at Christ Church hoped to produce the Salvation Army musical Spirit and invited a local music teacher, Susan Klages, to conduct the music and Christ Church organist, John Hesson, to accompany them. There were not enough singers to pull off the demanding script, but the enthusiasm didn’t wane and eventually a choir began to form called The Spirit Singers. 

Practices were held in the home of John & Flora Hesson, John being our first accompanist, his wife Flora baking the muffins. Under the skilled leadership of our founder and director, Rita Baker, our choir practiced hard and learned – even those of us with “tin” ears and no music-reading skills. In time, Spirit Singers became a well-rounded, community-based, mixed choir with a wide repertoire and an average of forty-five members, which has lasted to the present day.

Many members are retired and come from all along the Bruce Peninsula, from Tobermory on the northern tip to Wiarton in the south, from the Georgian Bay Coast and along the Lake Huron shore. There are no auditions. If we have room in a section for you, you are welcome. Some of us have experience and confidence in singing. Others, like myself, have never sung in a choir and need encouragement. You will find it in the superb direction of our current director, Vicki Corcoran, our accomplished pianist, Carol Kolohon and the kind words of fellow choir members. There is a caring sense of community within the choir that is cherished as much as the music we sing. Problems are approached with sensitivity and each rehearsal is a celebration, a blend of serious work and light-hearted humour.

Spirit Singers has sung on the shores of Georgian Bay, where most of us hail from, in churches and community care centres. We have sung in ancient abbeys and cathedrals in both Wales and England. We have even sung, while hanging on for our lives, in storm-tossed life boats in the British Channel. 

To celebrate our 30th year, we have sung in our traditional venues this summer in Lion’s Head, Tobermory, Cape Chin and Wiarton. Our fall concerts, a lively mix of inspirational as well as classic pop melodies such as The Beatles, The Everley Brothers, Gershwin and Bacharach, will also be performed at Trinity United Church in Ingersoll, as we take our first road trip in many years.

We are blessed to live in this wonderful part of the province where so many gifted people make their home. It is no wonder our indigenous neighbours regard the Saugeen Peninsula as a sacred place. And there is nothing more sacred, nothing more beautiful, than the human voice raised in song. This is our reason for being. We are the Bruce Peninsula Spirit Singers.