Elmira church to host police chorus in Hospice of Waterloo Region fundraiser

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A 45-year concert tradition is coming to Gale Presbyterian Church in Elmira to raise money for a good cause. All the proceeds raised from a performance by the  Waterloo Region Police Chorus event will go towards the capital campaign of Hospice of Waterloo Region.

The group has a new twist as of January this year, adding women into their traditionally male group.

“That’s never happened before, it’s always been a male chorus,” said chorus manager Bob Brown. “We now have 21 ladies that come out to rehearse. If they all stay, we’ll be thrilled.

“It’s a different dynamic, but I’m very much looking forward to it. I think it’s just the way of the future. They have a lot to offer, and it’ll be good. The ladies have been out to two rehearsals.”

Since this is a very recent addition, the Gale Presbyterian Church concert will feature the male chorus this time around.

Their shows are approximately an hour-and-a-half to two hours long, featuring a wide variety of music. They do not charge for any event. Brown said the amount of money raised for each charitable cause varies.

“It really depends. Some church will do it as a goodwill offering,” said Brown. “They will usually make a little less than a structured concert. So it really varies – if it’s for a hospital that wants a fundraiser for a roof, we’ll usually make $4,000 to $5,000.

“We just did one for our local hospitals at Christmas with John McDermott, and we’ll be giving them a cheque on February 5 for $30,000.”

For larger concerts, the chorus will team up with other musicians such as Scottish-Canadian tenor McDermott and Aboriginal recording artist Susan Aglukark.

Over the years, they have managed to raise some $1.5 million for the community and those in need. The tradition started all the way back in 1973, with about 20 singers drawn from the ranks of the police service.

“As we progressed into the mid-1970s, it became much harder to keep 20 singers with people working different times of the day, so we opened it up to the public in the late-1970s,” said Brown. “We started taking members of the public in that were good-standing in the community. Since then, we’ve never looked back, and it’s just been a great thing to do.”

“There’s a rule, about how many practices you have to attend,” added Gale Presbyterian church member Marilyn Coupal. “When they would do the 12-hour shifts, they couldn’t do that. So the group had to start getting volunteers in. Now, a lot of the officers that started the police chorus are retiring, and they’re coming back to the chorus.”

The concert will take place on February 10 at 10 Barnswallow Dr. in Elmira from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dessert and beverages will be served afterward. Tickets are $15, and free for children 12 and under. They can be purchased by calling the church office at 519-669-2852 or Marilyn Coupal at 519-669-5734.

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