The Story of Joie de Vivre Choir
In 2014, Joie de Vivre Choir established itself as a community choir, after its origin as a program of the University of Manitoba's Desautel Faculty of Music Division of Preparatory Studies. The choir celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011 with a concert dedicated to its founder, Helga Anderson and former accompanist, the late Ross Houston. For that concert, then Director of the Division of Preparatory Studies, Mary Hawn, provided program notes that briefly outlined some of the Choir's history. For the moment, they will serve as a brief introduction and history.
Joie de Vivre Choir - Looking Forward and Backward – with thanks! (December 10, 2011)
The Joie de Vivre choir for adults aged fifty-plus is directed by John Tanner and accompanied by Deena Grier. The concert choir rehearses on Saturdays from 10:00-11:30 AM in room 226 of the Education Building on the U of M campus. Choristers perform winter and spring concerts annually, and at other events as opportunities arise. Through the years, this has included singing at the New Year’s Levee at the Manitoba Legislature, Citizenship Court, the Rady Centre, the Steinbach Festival and choral celebrations of all kinds. In 2009 the choir was invited to perform in the Unisong Festival in Ottawa.
The first rehearsal of 2011-2012 was held Saturday, September 10. New members are still and always welcome. No audition necessary!
None of this would be happening now, without the inaugural and lengthy contribution of [the late] Helga Anderson, director, and the late Ross Houston, accompanist. They were likewise inspired in their work with the Joie de Vivre Choir by the late Ann Lugsdin, Director of the Division of Preparatory Studies from 1988 to 2003. Each concert program since Ann’s passing has been dedicated to her, in loving memory, for her insight and encouragement. She and Helga were great friends – a bond that develops when sharing the goal and pursuit of excellence. Likewise the friendship between Helga and Ross was, literally, remarkable.
We are so grateful to Helga Anderson for her insight and generosity in having arranged that donations received at concerts help fund the "Joie de Vivre Scholarship," awarded annually to the "best overall" singer in the Enrichment Program auditions, and the "Joie de Vivre Bursary," awarded annually to a deserving student upon application and recommendation of their teacher.
The Ross Houston Memorial Fund has now reached the endowment criterion and also remains open for further contributions. The terms and conditions of the award are in the formulative stages. The first award can be expected to benefit an outstanding piano student with the Division of Preparatory Studies in the upcoming year of study. Each and every subsequent year will have another such award, thanks to the generosity of those who knew and loved Ross. Further details on eligibility and application process will be forthcoming.
Helga continues to teach piano and theory with the Division of Preparatory Studies, and has passed the “choral torch” to John and Deena with confidence.
John Tanner is a retired physician who is completing a master's diploma in choral conducting at the University of Manitoba under Dr. Elroy Friesen. An active singer in several choirs (Koshetz, St. John Brebeuf, Hoosli, Brochan Lom), he also conducts the Manitoba Hydro "Electric Chords" Christmas Choir and is interim leader of the "Irish Myst" ensemble at the Irish Club of Manitoba.
John is honoured and delighted to be the successor to Helga Anderson. He is continuing the well-established and joyful music making with "Joie de Vivre" along with accompanist, Deena Grier, whom he requested, having worked together as a compatible team in previous undertakings. They are proving to be an awesome team.
Deena Grier graduated with a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Collaborative Piano Performance in May 2010, studying with Drs. Laura Loewen and Judy Kehler-Siebert. She is presently in her fourth year as accompanist for the University of Manitoba’s Opera Workshop and has been both a singer and accompanist for other Faculty of Music choirs.
The Tenth Anniversary Concert on December 10, 2011 is a tribute to Helga and Ross and a commitment by the Division of Preparatory Studies to continue along the path set out by all who have gone before. Please invite all your friends to enjoy the varied and delightful programme of music from Mozart to Leonard Cohen.
Winnipeg Free Press article: Choir honours conductor's 60-year career.