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Community choir leader reflects on over a decade of gathering in song

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Dayna Davis, leader of the community choir Isle Sing, has witnessed a natural evolution of her group’s involvement in the larger community on Cortes Island, BC since its beginning around 2009.

In the last few years, the choir has been called on to sing with and for locals in their last days before passing and to lead songs as an integral part of burials. The group has performed at various events and always acknowledges members’ birthdays, as well as the arrival of newborns with a song or two.

“Every culture throughout time in history has sung as a way to come together, as a way to build, mourn our dying and celebrate our births and our marriages, our successes and our hard times. We come together to sing as part of being human,” Davis says. She also spoke about the immediate benefits of group singing, such as social bonding and release of “happy hormones” like serotonin and oxytocin.

The choir has grown over the years to an average attendance of 25 people. Davis draws on a wide range of musical sources for the repertoire, including traditional spirituals, folk songs and chants from around the world, as well songs from modern composers such as Laurence Cole, who typically writes for multiple choir parts.

Isle Sing is part of the Ubuntu Choirs Network, founded by Siobhan Robinsong and Denis Donnelly.

Top illustration credit: One of the guiding principles of community choirs such as Isle Sing is to be inclusive and non-auditioned. Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash.