After two years, the Queenston Women’s Chorus will once again be performing an annual Christmas concert, “Here We Come A-Carolling,” on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. at Trillium United Church in St. Catharines with special guests the Niagara Star Singers.
The chorus of 30 women from across Niagara paused performances during the pandemic but Lisa Cosens Brillon, conductor and founder of the chorus, says they are eager to get back to doing what they love.
A big part of that is giving back to the community, she says. Net proceeds from the concert will go to the Niagara Festival of Performing Arts scholarship fund and Newark Neighbours.
“We set up a music scholarship fund years ago to encourage students who are going into music and, especially, singing,” Brillon says.
Net proceeds from ticket sales for each performance are donated to local and national charities, such as Niagara-on-the-Lake Palliative Care, Nova House, Wells of Hope, Wellspring Niagara and others.
Nearly $8,000 has been awarded to the scholarship fund since 2015.
Brillon’s lifelong passion for music has led to a long career.
She began singing professionally at age 17 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and two master’s of music degrees – in voice performance and in music education.
She has been singing personally and professionally ever since, with a resume that includes the role of Madame Firmin in the Toronto production of “The Phantom of the Opera” and the lead role of Elena in “I Vespri Siciliani” with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Avery Fisher Hall.
“I’ve been doing music since I was six years old, piano, singing, singing in choirs, and singing in festivals,” she says.
She wanted to share her love of music, so she also founded a music festival that grew to become the Niagara Festival of Performing Arts.
“It is for musical theatre, classical voice, popular voice, classical piano, popular piano, strings and speech arts,” she says. “It has been a lifelong, not only occupation, but passion.”
That passion and commitment to music sparked the creation of the women’s choir back in 2003.
“I’m a musician and I am a singing teacher. I’m also a choral conductor. My children were getting older and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a community chorus.’ ”
“I just thought it would be a great thing to do for the community and I had lots of women encouraging me to do it. So I took it on and here we are today,” Brillon says.
The chorus, previously named the Queenston Ladies Choir, is a staple in the community, having performed at numerous community openings, such as the NOTL Community Centre and Willowbank, as well as at St. Davids Heritage Day and for the Shaw Guild.
Its two concerts, one at Christmas and one in the spring, are the choir’s big events.
This year’s Christmas concert will be at a new venue in St. Catharines. They have performed at St. Mark’s Anglican Church for years but due to a scheduling conflict, Brillon says they had to look elsewhere.
“I was really lucky and fortunate to find Trillium United Church at 415 Linwell Rd. in St. Catharines … it’s a beautiful venue,” Brillon says.
The performance will also include a sing-a-long medley of familiar Christmas songs. There will be a reception afterward, with light refreshments.
Next spring, the chorus will hold its annual spring concert, which will also mark the group’s 20th anniversary.
Tickets for the Dec. 4 Christmas concert can be purchased at the door or by contacting Brillon at email@example.com.