New Sooke Philharmonic Choral Director Looks Forward to an Exciting Year
Nicholas Fairbank, a west coast native, has been appointed the new director of the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus by Maestro Norman Nelson, the Conductor and Musical Director of the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra.
Fairbank lives in Victoria, where he works as a composer, collaborative pianist, harpsichordist and organist, conductor, adjudicator, clinician and teacher. He is the Artistic Director of Via Choralis chamber choir, the Music Director at First Unitarian Church of Victoria, and teaches organ at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
He enjoys the collaborative aspect of choral conducting. “In music, working with other people is always more interesting and stimulating than performing as a soloist, and I enjoy the exchange of musical ideas as well as the challenge of working with a group of people to craft a performance from the bare notes on the page to something that moves the singers and the audience alike.”
He sees his post with the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus as a challenging opportunity not only to conduct a new choir, but also to develop his skills as an orchestra conductor at the side of an experienced professional like Norman Nelson.
This fall, the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus will be working on excerpts from Handel’s Messiah for the December concerts. Fairbank also plans to look at some lighter classical repertoire like a cappella motets and madrigals to help develop choral skills like tuning and blend. In the spring the major work will be Mozart’s Solemn Vespers.
Fairbank enjoys working on vocal music of all kinds. He says, “Your voice is the most personal of instruments – it stays with you all your life and you don’t have to pack it in a case, lug it around in your car or on your bicycle, or have it tuned and repaired. It is also a universal instrument – with some training everyone can learn to sing properly, using the breath efficiently and managing the vocal apparatus (vocal chords, lips, teeth, tongue, etc.) so that the effect is pleasing to the singer as well as to the listener.”
The Chorus is currently open to new members. All voices are welcome but tenors and basses are needed in particular. Saturday morning rehearsals are two hours long; dress rehearsals and concerts are evenings or weekends. Previous choral experience is a plus, but not a necessity. The ability to read music at sight is definitely an advantage, but Fairbank says that those who don’t read well often have a good ear and a memory for tunes. Singers are expected to put in time on their own between rehearsals to review their parts. Rehearsals this year will be held on alternate Saturdays in Colwood (at Church of the Advent) and in Sooke (at St. Rose of Lima Church). Singers are welcome to come and discover what it’s all about the exhilaration and excitement of singing with a live orchestra-it’s free! The first rehearsal of the fall season will be September 19th. Interested people should contact Lynda Rose, the Chorus Liaison at 250-642-3536.