Choir director and composer Earle Peach of Vancouver puts participants through their paces during a choral workshop Sunday at Gatehouse Community Theatre in Port McNeill.

Choral workshop hits the right note

Earle Peach puts vocalists through their paces at a Port McNeill event.

PORT McNEILL—Attendance was lower than organizers hoped, but a choral workshop by renowned B.C. singer, composer and choral director Earle Peach was a hit with participants Sunday afternoon at Gatehouse Community Theatre.

“That was fun,” said Brenda MacQueen of Port McNeill, who attended with granddaughter Lilliana Coutts, who was visiting from Squamish. “I came because I thought Lilliana would enjoy it, but I had a great time.”

Peach performed a concert at the theatre the previous evening with his folk group, Illiteratty, which included Albert Klassen, Wanda Mundy and Kristen Daub. It is one of three bands with which he plays, along with the four Vancouver-area choirs he directs.

“I’m happy to do these workshops, wherever and whenever I can fit them in,” said Peach. “I’m always glad when I can help people discover a voice they didn’t know they had.”

Peach sorted Sunday’s workshop participants into groups of sopranos and altos — Klassen stood in on bass as the only other male in attendance — then led them through a range of songs.

Working down songs note-by-note, word-by-word and part-by-part, he soon had the impromptu choir of 10 performing passable versions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the spiritual Down to the River to Pray featured in the movie Brother, Where Art Thou?, and an African song whose greatest challenge was the language of the lyrics.

“We were low in numbers, which is sad, but what can you do against the sunshine?” said Terry Eissfeldt, the Gatehouse Community Society director who arranged the concert and workshop. “When the weather gets nice like this, everybody disappears.

“People really missed out, though. The concert (Saturday) night was great.”