Soundings in action, conducted by Denis Donnelly. The upcoming concerts will focus on the music of the Beatles. (Andrew Kielbowicz)

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

The timeless music of the Beatles is being given a new twist this month, as the Victoria vocal ensemble Soundings sing Fab Four hits a capella.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ last studio album, Abbey Road, and the choir’s concerts take place May 24 and 25 in Oak Bay and Sidney.

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Soundings founder and director Denis Donnelly says he hopes the performances will be a celebration of the Liverpudlians’ music. He believes the enduring popularity of the Beatles’ music is because of the visceral effect it has on listeners.

“I grew up with the Beatles and was entranced with them when I heard their music in high school. It was a magical night when I got a copy of Sergeant Pepper’s [Lonely Hearts Club Band], I was dancing all over the room listening to it over and over again.”

Over the years, Donnelly has painstakingly crafted a repertoire of Beatles songs, and thought the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road would be the perfect time to perform them. The 26-voice Soundings ensemble spend months memorizing words and practising, and the two May dates will form the group’s summer season.

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Some of the longer songs will be accompanied by the Cascadia String Quartet, but the majority of songs will be sung a capella.

Donnelly, who received a lifetime achievement award from the BC Choral Federation in 2010, believes there is a power to vocal ensemble music, “I think there’s a greater connection with the audience, a more direct and stronger bond.”

Soundings plan to sing a few old favourites mixed with lesser known numbers. These include Julia, which John Lennon wrote for his mother, If I Fell and Mean Mr Mustard. The songs will cover Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison led songs.

Donnelly was part of the first intake of students to Sidney Elementary school and he sees the Mary Winspear Centre concert as a homecoming of sorts.

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“I’m really happy we’re performing at Mary Winspear, I’m a Brentwood Bay resident and grew up in Sidney so I’m really happy to be performing there.”

Soundings has been going for 18 years and currently has 26 members. The group like to keep their numbers under 30 to maintain the intimate nature of their performances but say anyone interested in joining should visit soundingsmusic.ca.

The May 24 performance will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre in Oak Bay High School. For tickets email tickets@soundsingsmusic.ca. The May 25 show is at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. For tickets phone 250-656-0275.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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