Cultivating Creativity: Feeling nostalgic with Command Performance

By Roli Tipper (with notes from Lois Russell)

Command Performance began in 1988 with eight ladies from Prince Edward County who loved to sing together and has evolved over the decades into a 30+ voice choir that draws singers from all over the Bay of Quinte Region. The choir performs locally, regionally, provincially and, in 2020, internationally at the Fire and Voice Festival in Austria. What sets them apart from other choirs and choral groups is their versatility and range of genres that they constantly explore. They perform the usual choral standards, plus serious classical compositions, contemporary cantatas, lighthearted popular music, intricate jazz pieces, and so on. There is no formal audition process, but the calibre of the musicians and the demands of the arrangements themselves quickly eliminate those who are less capable.

What also makes the choir unique is how the co-conductors—Greg Garrett and Moira Nikander-Forrester—share in the role of director (artistic interpretation, year-round preparation and planning, writing scripts for their programs, etc.), allowing them each to sing with the choir; Moira as second soprano, Greg as tenor.

Greg Garrett is a local boy, born and raised in Glen Miller. He studied music at Western University, and spent a career teaching music at the high school level; first at Trenton, then Moira and finally PE Collegiate, before finishing his career as a vice-principal. Now semi-retired he says the main goal and objective for the choir is producing good quality choral music while creating an enjoyable experience for all involved.

Moira Nikander-Forrester, a retired music/theatre arts teacher, was born and raised in Windsor, Ont. Educated at Windsor and Western Universities, Moira taught elementary school in Windsor and London, Ont., before teaching at Queen Elizabeth School and Moira Secondary School. She played professionally, most notably with the Windsor Symphony, where she began playing French horn at age 17. In recent years she has been very active in the Belleville Theatre Guild where she acts, directs and generally lives and breathes community theatre. Choral work and theatre have occupied much of her time since retiring from full time teaching in 2003. Her objective with the choir has been to offer choral music in a wide variety of styles and genres, challenging for both singers and audiences.

To switch up the musical challenges, this weekend Command Performance will be singing choral arrangements of popular music from the 60s, 70s and 80s, including music by Carole King, Lennon & McCartney, Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell.

The concert’s title, Sweet Nostalgia: Songs from our LPs, reflects the feeling everyone in the musical group experiences as they work their happy way through the intricate harmonies. The Choir enjoyed learning the choral versions of the music they sang and danced to when they were younger. There will be an evening performance at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Picton on June 1, and Bridge St.United Church in Belleville hosts the 2:00pm matinee on June 2. The Choir hopes to create the sound that is so well remembered and enjoyed by generations of music lovers, but with a choral arrangement. Tickets are available at: commandperformancechoir.com