The first ever Belle Voci A Cappella Festival runs Sept. 27 to 29 and will feature two of the best workshop leaders in the Lower Mainland — Joel Tranquilla (left) and Christopher Suen, says organizer Paula DeWit. (Submitted)

Chilliwack’s Belle Voci brings three-day a cappella festival to Fraser Valley

Singers will learn from two of Lower Mainland’s best music leaders at Belle Voci A Cappella Festival

A weekend-long vocal festival next weekend in Chilliwack will offer singers a chance to “perform, be mentored and learn.”

The Belle Voci A Cappella Festival is a three-day event where participants will get a chance to sing with the Chilliwack a cappella choir, take part in workshops led by two conductors from Vancouver and Fort Langley, and perform live in concert.

“It will be a full weekend in a supportive environment to make great music with Belle Voci and two of the best workshop leaders in the Lower Mainland — Christopher Suen and Joel Tranquilla,” says organizer Paula DeWit.

The festival runs Friday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 29 in the great acoustical setting of Sts. Joachim and Ann Church in Aldergrove.

Friday consists of a “Healthy choral singing” workshop with Tranquilla, a massed choir rehearsal and a wine-and-cheese meet-and-greet. Saturday features workshops by Suen including “The polyphonic motet” and a men’s chant. Later that day Tranquilla will lead “Expanding the singer’s ‘toolbox.’”

And then on Sunday, registrants will get to perform live during that day’s three concerts: Chilliwack Cultural Centre at 1 p.m., St. James Catholic Church in Abbotsford at 3:30 p.m. and Sts. Joachim and Ann Roman Catholic Church in Aldergrove at 7 p.m.

“We are hoping that many singers will gather with us for an amazing weekend of workshops, networking and singing,” says DeWit.

Cost to register for the Belle Voci A Cappella Festival is $100 and includes admission to all three days of workshops, rehearsals and concerts, printed music, Friday evening meet-and-greet, Saturday light lunch, Sunday light snack, and one complimentary ticket to one of the concerts of your choice.

For more information and to register for the weekend, go to bellevoci.ca or call 604-795-0521.

“The weekend festival will culminate with three concerts in the Fraser Valley on Sunday and we would love for you to come out and hear how the weekend turned out,” adds DeWit.

Those interested in seeing the Chilliwack concert, it’s on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. at the Cultural Centre. Tickets are $25 and available at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca or by calling 604-391-SHOW. Tickets for the other two concerts are available at bellevoci.ca or at the door.

Bios:

• Dr. Joel Tranquilla is a conductor and music educator noted for his versatile musicianship and creative programming. As the Director of Choral Activities at Trinity Western University he oversees a program of six choirs and teaches various other courses within the School of the Arts, Media + Culture. Recent tours have taken the TWU Chamber Choir to Ottawa, New York City, China, Japan, and Taiwan. Joel is also the Artistic Director of the Valley Festival Singers in Abbotsford and the Associate Conductor of the Juno-nominated Canadian Chamber Choir. In high demand as an adjudicator and clinician, Joel works regularly with singers across the Lower Mainland and is a past Guest Conductor of the New Brunswick Youth Choir and the Manitoba Provincial Honour Choir. He holds degrees from Mount Allison University, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University where his doctoral research was in the area of Canadian choral-orchestral works. Joel lives in Fort Langley with his wife Meghan and their two children, Everett and Penelope.

• Christopher Suen is a conductor, director, teacher and performer of sacred music and folk music in and around Vancouver. Growing up in Winnipeg in a musical family, he learned a variety of instruments and genres from an early age, graduated from UBC in Religious Studies, Latin & Greek (2000), and studied conducting with Lars Kaario at Capilano University (2015). Chris has been active in Vancouver’s Traditional Latin Mass Choir since 1998, working closely with director Mark Donnelly as his assistant from 2008–2014, and then as director of music at Holy Family Parish from 2014–2016. He attended the Tallis Scholars’ Summer Courses with Peter Philips and David Woodcock in 2014, and studied music of the Eton Choirbook with Deborah Roberts in Triora, Italy, the same year. He spent two years as a seminarian with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in Nebraska and lived most recently in 2018 at Silverstream Priory, a Benedictine monastery in Ireland, under Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB.

Having lived so much in communities where Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony are an integral part of daily life in singing the Mass and the Divine Office, Chris’ approach to sacred music is practical, fluid and expressive, yoking the natural aspects of vocal production to their supernatural end with sensitivity, clarity and intention.


 

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