(Posted 1:30 p.m., Dec. 18)
Manor choir spreads joy of music to fellow seniors
By Fred Sherwin
of 'Les Jeunes de Coeur de Belcourt' perform for their fellow
residents at the Belcourt Manor retirement residence on Sunday.
the past two weeks a group of residents from the Belcourt Manor retirement
residence have been touring seniors homes across the city to share
their joy of music with fellow seniors.
Jeunes de Coeur de Belcourt" is made up of 10 women and seven
men including a former Catholic priest and a retired monk. The average
age of the group is 80. Collectively they've celebrated a grand total
of 1,350 Christmases, soon to become 1,367.
was formed last summer by Belcourt resident and former choir master,
got the idea while entertaining her fellow residents at the piano
every week. During the informal sessions a number of residents would
join in. Over time, the numbers grew to the point where she decided
to create a choir.
initial goal was to hold a benefit concert and record a CD which they
did with great success in September. But what was supposed to be a
one off effort soon turned into something bigger. In November, they
started talking about holding a series of Christmas concerts at other
Allegro residences in the region in an effort to raise money for the
Ottawa Food Bank.
wrapped up their tour on Sunday with a heartwarming performance for
their fellow residents, family members and friends at Belcourt Manor.
half of the concert featured a mix of French classics such as "Souvenir
d'un Viellard" and "Tristesse", along with a few Irish
favourites like "Danny Boy", "Molly Malone" and
"I'll Tell My Ma".
a short intermission the choir launched into the second half of the
program which included holiday classics like "O Holy Night",
"Silver Bells" and "Silent Night".
by the applause and the smiles on everyone's faces, the audience was
thoroughly entertained, although at times it was hard to tell who
was having more fun -- the audience or the members of the choir.
Iréne Grandmaitre is the oldest member of the chorus by a couple
of months. For at least 60 of her 87 years, she has sung in a variety
of choirs. When word spread that a choir was being formed at the Manor,
she signed up immediately.
this has just been wonderful," Grandmaitre said during the intermission
on Sunday. "It's
brought back so many memories. My father couldn't sing a note, but
he loved to hear my mother sing. She's the one who taught all us kids.
She taught me how to sing "Souvenir d'un Viellard" in French."
first started to put the choir together, she had a difficult time
getting the male members of the chorus to join in.
were too afraid to open their mouths," said Lunney. "Eventually,
I had to separate them and work on the guys separately."
she didn't have to coax too much was her husband Ed, who used to sing
all the time before the demands of the Catholic priesthood cut into
his rehearsal time. Lunney rose to the rank of Monsignor, before eventually
leaving the priesthood several years ago and eventually marrying Yvonne.
suffering from the effects of Parkinson's Disease, Lunney is the featured
soloist in the choir's Irish numbers which he obviously enjoys. During
"I'll Tell My Ma", there was a visible twinkle in his eye
that could be seen from the back of the room.
the other choir members, Gerry Bérnard was simply amazing while
sharing soloist duties with Jaqueline Forest on "Tristesse"
and Gisèle Sorel on "Panis Angelicus". Both women
were impeccable. So much so, in fact, that I one could easily imagine
them performing as featured soloists with any chorus in the city.
of the choir is made up of Denyse Kingsley, Allan Yoxon, Gilles Bellehumeur,
Murielle Wilson, John Charlebois, Madeleine Ségiun, Georgette
Charlebois, Gisèle Gagné, Colbert Brulé, Jacqueline Bérnard and Hervé Charlebois.
however, the Lunneys have recently moved to another retirement residence,
which has thrown the future of the Belcourt chorus in doubt. One can
only hope that the remaining choir will continue to sing together
and stay young at heart.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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