The WLU Alumni Choir will help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Laurier’s Faculty of Music with an “all-Mozart” program Sunday, May 15 starting at 3 p.m. in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 54 Queen St. N., in Kitchener.
All Laurier alumni are encouraged and welcome to attend this free concert. Donations collected at the concert will be added to the fund that generates the WLU Alumni Choir Scholarship.
This event, titled Mozart Mania, will allow alumni another chance, or a first chance as the case may be, to sing a beloved work, the Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The program will be conducted by a variety of alumni conductors, accompanied by alumni and former faculty organists with the solo parts in the Requiem covered by different solo quartets each movement with soli. The weekend will be a great chance to reconnect with friends and faculty and the final concert will raise funds for the WLU Alumni Choir scholarship.
The WLU Alumni Choir is open to all Laurier alumni from all graduation years who love to sing. The choir’s mission:
In 2001, Laurier Music Professor Daniel Lichti proposed that members of the former WLU University Choir come together in song and fellowship to establish a music award in memory of Keith Knights, a former choir member.
The idea was well received. In May 2002, at least 50 former members gathered at the Keffer Chapel in the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary to sing together, something many hadn’t done in 35 or more years. Everyone had such a good time that it was decided to hold a concert in the Maureen Forrest Hall in September of that year.
The choir began to meet annually and called itself the WLU Alumni Choir, welcoming graduates of both Waterloo Lutheran University and Wilfrid Laurier University.
The choir decided to perform a formal concert in May 2004 in support of the Keith Knights Award. Seventy members joined in the production of Faure’s “Requiem” under the direction of Professor Walter Kemp, former chair of the Department of Music. The concert was recorded and the CDs sold.
Choir member Rob Asselstine (BMus ’76), who was also a member of the WLU Alumni Association board at the time, encouraged the WLU Alumni Choir to develop a closer relationship with the university. The WLU Alumni Choir became the first constituent society in Canadian university history.
The choir began to meet at the university’s annual Homecoming celebrations. Members would rehearse on Saturday, have a social that evening, and then sing the Sunday morning service at a local church and then return to the university to sing at the Founders Luncheon.
During this time, the WLU Alumni Choir was twice invited to sing back up to Laurier graduate Rosalind Pickett for the national anthem at the Homecoming football game. The choir also participated in the celebration of former Golden Hawks coach, Tuffy Knight.
Rob Asselstine found an old school song in the archives from the Waterloo College days. He arranged it and updated it for Laurier, giving us “Laurier We Will Praise Thee Ever.” The choir sings the song at the annual the Founder’s Luncheon.
In addition to the Keith Knights Award, the WLU Alumni Choir has established the WLU Alumni Choir Scholarship in the Faculty of Music. These awards are distributed each year to deserving music students who show outstanding talent as a performer and make an impact on both their peer group and the broader community.
The choir also purchased a grand piano for the Senate and Board Chambers.
In 2011, the choir commissioned Leonard Enns, also a member, to compose a choral piece for the university’s centennial. “With Light Unfailing” was performed in the spring of 2011 and members were invited to join the University Choir for its premier.
This year, as the Faculty of Music celebrates its 40th anniversary, the WLU Alumni Choir was invited to participate in the chorus of the faculty’s January production of “Die Fledermaus,” in addition to the May 15 Mozart Mania concert.
The WLU Alumni Choir has been privileged to have members of the Faculty of Music volunteer to work with it over the Homecoming weekend to work. Special thanks goes to Professors Lee Willingham and Elvera Froese, to name a few. At Willingham’s suggestion, the choir has also looked to its own members for conducting.
For more information about the WLU Alumni Choir, including how to join, please visit the Laurier Alumni website.
With thanks to Kathy Mauer.