Wavelengths is a non-auditioned community choir performing a wide range of music, founded in 2018 by its director, Denis Donnelly. It draws its participants from all over the Greater Victoria region including the Saanich Peninsula.
The inaugural session of Wavelengths began Sept.10, 2018. Weekly rehearsals are held 7:30 – 9:30 at the Unitarian Church, 5575 West Saanich Rd. The session will conclude, after a 2-week Christmas break, with two more rehearsal weeks followed by a concert on Jan.18, 2019.
Wavelengths enthusiastically welcomes all who wish to participate in the joyful experience of singing in harmony with others. No previous singing experience or any technical knowledge of music is required.
Wavelengths builds on the tradition of the Gettin’ Higher Choir (GHC), which Denis has co-directed with Siobhan Robinsong for almost 20 years. Both have retired from directing the GHC, and have handed it over to new directors Cathy Baker and Dick Jackson.
Members of the choir are highly diverse in age and in background. Some have been singing all their lives and can read music fairly well, while for others, this will be the first time in their adult lives that they have participated in singing in group harmony. We understand that people come with varying backgrounds in singing, and so, especially in the first few weeks of each session, there will be some short songs that are easy to pick up aurally, while we will also slowly introduce some of the repertoire that will be performed in the concerts.
Every effort will be made to make newcomers feel welcome, by such things as assisting people with placement in their section, slowly introducing musical concepts, and providing explanation of the sheet music that will be handed out.
Registration & Fees
The inaugural session of Wavelengths runs from Sept.10 through Dec.17, 2018, then resumes Jan.7 for two weeks, concluding with a concert on Jan 18.
Fees are $175 for the September – January session, payable by the 3rd week of the session (Sept.24). A sliding scale down to $130 is available, as needed. Payment plans are also available upon discussion with registrar Laura Cook. Our intent is that nobody misses the opportunity to sing in Wavelengths for lack of available funds.
Interested people are encouraged to attend one of the orientation sessions, Sept.10 and 17, 7:00 – 7:30, and to attend the following evening rehearsals, at the Unitarian Church. There is no requirement to join at that time as it is understood that people need time to be sure that Wavelengths is a good fit for them. No advance notice is necessary to attend these orientation sessions.
For those wishing to consider being in both Wavelengths and the continuing Gettin’ Higher Choir, there is a special discount: you can pay 1½ times what you would pay for being in one of them, i.e. $262.50 – with sliding scale as usual. Please talk to our registrar Laura Cook for details.
The session-ending concert will be on the evening of Jan.18, in the Bodine Family Hall at the Mary Winspear Center in Sidney.
Proceeds from Wavelengths concerts will be donated to charity. The charity that we are supporting in the January 2019 concert is the Caia Connection, a non-profit organization that supports development and educational initiatives in a region surrounding the village of Kapasseni in Mozambique.
Kapasseni is the village that the Gettin’ Higher Choir has been supporting for 20 years, with enormous impact. Beginning in 1999 with raising funds to build a school, the Gettin’ Higher Choir has raised extensive funds for a larger school, a health center, extensive student scholarships, and many other projects. Currently the aim is to complete a distance learning center, powered by solar panels – the first one in Mozambique – where young people from Kapasseni and the surrounding villages can go to high school without having to leave home and go to a city for higher education. Because of the fund-raising participation of the Gettin’ Higher Choir over the years, that building is being named the “Siobhan Robinsong and Denis Donnelly Distance Learning Center”
Based in Victoria, BC, Denis is an experienced and multi-talented musician whose love affair with music has taken him in many creative directions over the years, as a singer, instrumentalist, arranger, composer, and conductor. For the past 20 years his main focus has been on choral music, for which he has drawn upon his diverse background with different genres and traditions, from folk to classical, and from Medieval to contemporary, as well as a life-long study of poetry, for inspiration and repertoire.
Denis developed his skills on piano and guitar at an early age, and became deeply involved in the folk music scene during the 1960’s, where he discovered his passion for singing in harmony. However, it was his participation in his high school choir, under the direction of Jim Johnson (a BC Choral Federation Herbert Drost award recipient in 2003) that was the pivotal experience in his life. He went on to graduate from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Music degree. Following graduation Denis went on to work at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, becoming its Director in 1985. After overseeing the Conservatory’s purchase, renovation, and move to its current home in the former Metropolitan United Church in 1999, he left to pursue his own musical interests.
From 1999 through to 2018, Denis was the arranger, as well as co-director with Siobhan Robinsong, of the 250+ voice Gettin’ Higher Choir, a non-auditioned, community choir. He has also been their main accompanist, playing guitar, piano, or Celtic harp, for pieces requiring instrumental back-up. In 2005, Denis and Siobhan developed the annual and highly influential and successful Community Choir Leadership Training program, which has led to the creation of the UBUNTU Choirs Network (50+ choirs and growing), a network of non-auditioned, community-based, and socially responsible choirs and singing groups all over North America, all based on the principles of inclusivity and joyful community singing.
In 2001, Denis founded the auditioned 26-voice ensemble Soundings in order to explore a highly eclectic mix of choral music from many genres and traditions more suitable for a small group. He weaves a variety of traditional and lesser known choral works with his own arrangements and compositions to craft programs that are both innovative and entertaining, and which give Soundings a distinctive place in the Victoria vocal community.
Very active as an arranger, Denis’s arrangements and compositions are in frequent use in both Soundings and the Gettin’ Higher Choir, as well as throughout North America, especially within the UBUNTU Choirs Network. His web site www.choralsongs.com has music appropriate for a wide range of choral groups, from simple and easily-taught rounds and chants to more complex arrangements suitable for concert performance.
In June of 2010, Denis was the recipient of the Herbert Drost Award, presented by the British Columbia Choral Federation, “in recognition of his work, dedication and contributions which have provided positive long-term effects on the British Columbia choral community”.
In May of 2018 Denis was awarded a Greater Victoria Community Leadership Award by the Lieutenant-Governor at Government House. Denis was also honoured as an Honorary Citizen of Victoria by the Mayor and Council in a ceremony at Victoria City Hall in July of 2018.
Our Team & Contacts
Laura is our Registrar and handles everything related to registration and fees. If you have questions about how to join Wavelengths, how to pay choir fees, or similar things, Laura is the one to see. Those interested in participating are asked to contact registrar Laura Cook at 250 508-8811 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Any questions about repertoire or concerns of a musical nature should be directed to the director here: email@example.com
Marilyn is our Music Coordinator. Marilyn and her assistants will hand out all the printed music. If you are missing some music, Marilyn is the one to see.
The Choir Contacts are two people in each section who are available to greet new members, answer questions, and generally make sure that everyone is comfortable in their sections. If you have questions, please feel free to ask one of them!
The Ubuntu Choir Network
Wavelengths is a member of the UBUNTU Choirs Network, a network of affiliated choirs throughout North America and the Pacific Rim, whose directors have participated in, and graduated from, the Community Choir Leadership Training program. This course is held for two weeks annually under the directorship of Siobhan Robinsong and Denis Donnelly. Their common goals are to be non-auditioned, have an aural rather than a “paper” approach to repertoire learning, and to be socially responsible by donating funds to worthwhile causes.
Ubuntu is a Zulu word which translates as “I am because we are” or “I exist as a person only in relationship to other people”. A wonderful image for a choir!
As UBUNTU is an African word, we did not want to be using it inappropriately, so we consulted with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He wrote back and said: “I am, because you are. A choir is a choir only because its different parts work together harmoniously. Yes, a person truly is a person only through other persons. God bless you in your noble endeavour.”
Soundings is a vibrant and intimate auditioned 26-voice ensemble choir directed by Denis Donnelly that delights its audiences with a highly eclectic mix of vocal choral music, from Medieval through to contemporary works, most of which is performed a capella and off-book. We take pride in presenting tightly rehearsed programs and creating a strong connection with our audiences. Concerts are always an entertaining and enchanting journey through the world of choral music.