Etobicoke choir has been performing for audiences for over 40 years. Written by Amy Brewitt and originally published November 6, 2008
The Harmony Singers is a three-part women’s choir that began in Etobicoke in 1965. Its activities include presenting concerts in Etobicoke and the surrounding area and performing at retirement homes, hospitals and civic functions. Over the years, its numbers have fluctuated, and today it has over 30 members and performs at several events throughout the year.
“The Harmony Singers are longest continuous-running choir in Etobicoke,” says Musical Director Harvey Patterson. “The group was created so that women of all ages and musical abilities who were interested in singing would form a group that didn’t just sing good music, but would also memorize and stage their songs.”
Over the years, The Harmony Singers have performed at many events, including Expo ’67 in Montreal, on Parliament Hill, and at numerous events in the Toronto area. Harvey Patterson says, “Their community involvement is long-standing – they have been a part of Etobicoke’s musical fabric for decades, and for a number of years were part of Arts Etobicoke’s Arts Festival, when the choir joined other groups in a massed choral concert.”
One of the group’s most recent important historical moments was their 40th Anniversary concert in 2005, when former members joined the current group on stage for the final number of the show, and singers spanning three decades of the Harmony Singers were involved.
While the choir enjoys the support it receives from community audiences, it also gives back. 2008 will mark the fourth year that the Harmony Singers have donated a scholarship to an outstanding student in the musical theatre program at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. The funds are used by the winner to further their musical studies, and the winner also performs as a Guest Artist at upcoming Harmony Singers concerts. Says former group president Ellen Johnstone, “This is a really fantastic way to recognize the talented young people in our community, and to make them feel like they are a part of the tradition of music in Etobicoke. It’s a way to unite the past, present, and future.”
There is a great measure of satisfaction in participating in such a long-running choral group. Harmony Singers member Irene Thompson offers, “It feels wonderful knowing that I am helping to carry on a community tradition – I hope that in 40 more years the group is still bringing music to the community!”