London Pro Musica is a vibrant mixed-voice choir organized and run by its members. LPM performs an extensive range of classical music–from the medieval to the contemporary–both for accompanied and unaccompanied voices. From its inception, LPM has actively supported Canadian composers/musicians and has sought to foster an interest in Canadian choral music. The choir also has a repertoire of popular music, including jazz and folk renditions, and selections from musical theatre. LPM remains the oldest unaffiliated concert choir in London with a current membership of approximately fifty singers.
LPM offers an annual subscription series of three concerts, and it typically accepts 3-4 contracted engagements per year. In addition, the choir performs regularly with Orchestra London Canada, a collaborative relationship that dates back more than thirty years. LPM actively pursues a cultural service role through benefit and outreach performances for local community organizations. LPM has also appeared as guest artists with other ensembles throughout southwest and central Ontario and has participated in several world première performances.
Since 2000, one of LPM’s priorities has been to showcase the exciting range of artistic possibilities available locally through collaboration with other music organizations. In our 2012-2013 season, LPM performed with Orchestra London, Toronto-based Madawaska String Quartet, El Sistema Aeolian, Stephen Holowitz and jazz vocalist Denise Pelley.
London Pro Musica Choir proudly introduces our new Artistic Director, Dr. Charlene Pauls
London Pro Musica Choir, an award-winning choral ensemble, launches its 47th season by welcoming the choir’s new Artistic Director, Dr. Charlene Pauls. Dr. Pauls is a well-known choral conductor, soprano soloist, pedagogue, adjudicator and voice clinician. London Pro Musica Choir President Nancy Knowles says, “We conducted an exhaustive search process, looking for just the right person to lead the choir, and we’re thrilled that this road led us to Charlene. It’s going to be a great season, and we’re looking forward to the years to come.”
LPMC’s first concert of the 2016/2017 season will take place November 5, 2016. Pauls explains that the program will include, “a selection of music exploring different facets of ‘Time,’ featuring an eclectic mix of music, including Stephen Chatman’s ‘Time Pieces,’ an arrangement of Coldplay’s ‘Clocks,’ the Healey Willan classic, ‘Rise Up My Love,’ and what is likely a Canadian premiere of the piece, ‘Time Is,’ by the Korean composer Eunbi Kwak.”
This season will also include collaboration with the We Play On orchestra to present Handel’s Messiah; the annual presentation of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” with readers from the Stratford and Shaw Festivals; a concert featuring special choral guests on March 4, and a celebratory “Canadian 150th” concert on May 13. Says Pauls, “In much the same vein as our popular Proms concert finale of last season, we have programmed a selection of music by Canadian composers, well-known Canadian folk songs, and of course, some sing-along moments for our audience. Come out and wave your Canadian flag as we join the country in commemorating 150 years since Confederation.”
In addition to her new role with London Pro Musica Choir, Pauls is Associate Music Director with the Oakville Children’s Choir, Music Director at the Anglican Church of the Incarnation in Oakville, and a Voice Teacher at St. Michael’s Choir in Toronto.
As a soloist, she has appeared with orchestras across Canada and Europe, and has earned degrees in piano and voice from the University of Manitoba, Canadian Mennonite University, the University of Winnipeg, McGill, and the University of Toronto, where she received her doctorate.
In coming to London Pro Musica Choir, Pauls says she is “excited about working with a dynamic group of people who are so passionate about choral singing, and about getting to know the arts community in London… I’m looking forward to working with Pro Musica as we continue to shape our artistic footprint in the city.”
Working with the choir’s volunteer board, she has already developed ambitious goals for her new charges. Initially, she says, the goal is “to build on the excellent foundation of the organization as established by the a long line of artistic directors, most recently Ken Fleet and Dr. Vicki St. Pierre, to expect the highest calibre of repertoire and performance standards, and to find music that continues to be relevant to our singers and audiences in the 21st century, drawing from traditional sources of choral classics, to new compositions such as those by London’s own up-and-coming composer Matthew Emery.” She adds,“I also feel strongly that we need to continue to push the boundaries of concert programming to include a wide range of repertoire over the course of a season.”
But Pauls’ vision goes beyond live performance. She says, “Within the next couple of years we are planning to do more outreach concerts, and we are making plans to record two CDs. First, our own choir members Rod Culham and Paul Knowles, an accomplished composer and writer respectively, have already written several superb pieces for Pro Musica and are continuing to compose more this season. We feel strongly that this music needs to be recorded sometime within the next year. Secondly, we have had an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience response to our Gospel Concert with Denise Pelley, and we have had numerous audience requests to record with her. These two recordings are very different in nature, and demonstrate the scope and range of our choir.”
Asked about the importance of choral music, she brings a touch of whimsy to her response: “The legendary American conductor Robert Shaw once said, ‘Music is like sex. It’s too important to be left up to the professionals!’ I was fortunate to sing with Shaw several times at various points in my career, first as a chorister and later as a soloist. Shaw’s philosophy of the importance of choral music has continued to influence me. Not only do we have the responsibility to honour a composer by getting the notes right, but more importantly, it is our responsibility to communicate a universal human truth found in the score. I believe in the transcendental effects of music both to the singer and for the audience. Why is it that in our times of emotional stress, we turn to music for solace? And likewise, in our times of joy, we can’t imagine celebrating without the energizing background of our favourite tunes? And in case all of this philosophical talk sounds too serious, another huge reason we sing and listen to choral music is that it is entertaining and it is fun!”
Grace Yip is an experienced choral pianist in London. She is currently working as a staff pianist for St Mary Choir and Orchestra School and Catholic Central High School. In addition to working with London Pro Musica, Grace is also the rehearsal pianist for the London Singers and the H. B. Beal High School Singers, and has worked with many groups including: the Canadian Celtic Choir, UWO Opera Workshop, the Karen Schuessler Singers, Amabile Girls Choir, Schola Sancti Pauli, Woodstock Strings, Scarborough Philharmonic, Laurie-Ann’s School of Dance, and Forest City School of Dance.
Grace earned her B.Mus in piano performance from the University of Saskatchewan and a M.Mus in collaborative piano from the University of Western Ontario. Her teachers have included Robin Harrison, Kathleen Solose and Ron Turini, as well as Andre Laplante in masterclasses at the Orford Arts Centre as a scholarship student.
Grace’s other musical endeavours include coordinating The Contemporary Showcase music festival for London Centre and directing her church choir at the Anglican Church of the Transfiguration, teaching and accompanying in the community.