Monday, May 23, 2016

From Pop to Opera and Back with Richard Margison and the Canadian Orpheus Male Choir

By Shiona Mackenzie

In 1977, the Canadian Orpheus Male Choir (COMC) was founded in Hamilton by Lyn Harry, a Welshman who settled in Canada. The Welsh tradition of male-voice choirs was highly popular then, and for about 15 years the COMC was in top form, with some 90 proud Canadians producing CD recordings and going on international concert tours. Things started to change in the mid-1990s, as it grew increasingly challenging for Harry to continue conducting, for health reasons. Then, when he retired from COMC, a handful of choristers also opted to pack it in.

Canadian Orpheus Male Choir
 The COMC, by then a registered charitable organization, carried on, but no longer singing in Welsh -- the glamour of which had worn thin, both for the audiences at home and for the middle-aged choristers who wrestled with the pronunciation. It wasn’t so easy to attract new members, but the "men who love to sing" shared a deep camaraderie that kept them coming back for more, while encouraging musicianship among men, performing at fundraisers to support local charitable causes, as well as hosting their own concerts, provided a compelling raison d'ĂȘtre.

Richard and Lauren Margison

The music scene of southwestern Ontario is different today and despite the demise of Opera Hamilton, there remain many eclectic music buffs... So, the COMC is planning a very special 39th Annual Concert this year.

On June 11 at 7pm, the Canadian Orpheus Male Choir (COMC) will share the main stage at the Dofasco Centre for The Arts (Theatre Aquarius) with internationally renowned operatic tenor, Richard Margison, and his equally talented daughter, Lauren Margison, a versatile soprano and rising star in her own right. Performing pop, traditional songs, musical hits and opera, the COMC's 39th Annual Concert will be a celebration of song not to be missed! A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Hamilton Spectator Summer Camp Fund for Kids...

Bob Missen

Robert Missen (Bob), who was inducted in the Burlington Performing Arts Centre's hall of Fame this month, joining the ranks of Gordie Tapp and Stuart Laughton, will be the Master of Ceremonies at this special event. Hamilton-born Missen has been involved as a professional in the performing arts for over forty years, as a singer, agent, artists manager, producer and promoter.

A former member of the Elmer Iseler Singers, Canadian Opera Company and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, he was a Founding Member of Tapestry Singers, now Tapestry Opera. He has worked with such distinguished Canadian artists as Maureen Forrester, Veronica Tennant, Michael Burgess, Stuart McLean, and The Men of the Deeps (the Cape Breton coal miners' choir that recently completed a successful 50th anniversary Ontario tour).

Tickets for the concert ($40/$45) are available from the Theatre Aquarius Box Office: 1-800- 465-7529.

More information about the COMC is available online www.comc.ca.

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