Celeste Brillon was always drawn by the world of women’s choir, though it would’ve been difficult not to be.
Her mother, Lisa Brillon, is the director of the Queenston Women’s Chorus. For two decades, she’s grown up listening to them.
“I remember they all would come to our house for Christmas parties when I was little and I would sneak downstairs and grab all of the good snacks and go back up into my room,” Celeste said, who joined the chorus in September.
“It’s fun to be older now and be able to be a part of it,” she added.
Since 2003, the Queenston Women’s Chorus, then called the Queenston Ladies Choir, has been a fixture in Niagara-on-the-Lake, bringing music and merriment to the community.
Last Saturday, the group celebrated 20 years together with its first spring concert since 2019 at Trillium United Church in St. Catharines.
Members young and old shared familiar tunes, including classics like the “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and a rendition of La La Land’s “Audition.”
Among the choir was Linda Scott, the only remaining original member.
When looking back on her 20 years with the group, Scott has countless fine memories.
Her favourite “might be the dinner theatre that we did,” a dining musical show.
“It was quite an event. That was probably one of the highlights of our 20 years together,” she said.
Aside from big shows, Scott has stuck it out with the group for so long as a way of connecting with the community.
“I think just the social aspect is really nice, getting to see the girls every week,” she said.
“The music is great too,” she added, saying her favourite song to perform is probably “Ride the Chariot,” which was performed during Saturday’s concert.
Before joining the choir, former teacher Scott had grown up honing her musical talents in piano, but never really venturing into vocal lessons.
“I grew up in Owen Sound so all my lessons and everything happened up there,” she said.
That is, until meeting Lisa Brillon.
“I sang in our church choir back home, but when I came down here I was really glad Lisa did start up what was then the Queenston Ladies Choir,” she said.
Scott and Lisa met for the first time in 1998, during a New Year’s Eve party during which Lisa went into labour with her daughter Celeste.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to be a part of because it’s been around my whole life growing up,” Celeste said.
Celeste holds a bachelor of musical theatre degree from, Sheridan College, worked on Disney Cruise Lines and starred in numerous productions including Ballet Jorgen’s “The Nutcracker.”
“We’re all there because we love to do it, (I love) the joy of music and everyone’s passion for it,” she said.
So far, Celeste’s favourite memory with the group is the Christmas concert, since it falls during her favourite holiday.
Her favourite song to perform is “A Million Dreams,” from the 2017 musical film “The Greatest Showman.”
Despite her busy schedule, Celeste said she hopes to stay in the chorus for as long as possible.
“I try to arrange my teaching schedule around it, because like my mom, I teach dance and musical theatre classes, so I really like to keep my schedule around being able to go every Tuesday night,” she said.
As for advice for other young women hoping to join, Celeste said not to worry too much about having a musical background.
“Don’t be afraid to join whether you can read sheet music or not, or if you don’t think you can sing. If you have a passion for music and singing and just a feeling of community, it’s definitely an open space for anyone to join.”