I myself am not musical and I can't really actually sing very well. But I enjoy singing. It makes me feel good.
—Sarah Carson, Midnight Choir
The name comes from Leonard Cohen's song "Bird on the Wire." Specifically, the line: "Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free."
Choir doesn't actually sing at midnight, but the singers definitely
sing with the freedom and abandon evoked in Cohen's song. In fact, the
most important quality to have in order to join is enthusiasm.
"I myself am not musical and I can't really actually sing very well," says Sarah Carson, one of the organizers. "But I enjoy singing. It makes me feel good. I think that's why karaoke exists."
Midnight Choir sang their hearts out at Thom Bargen Coffee and Tea (Chris Noto)
Choir is an open-membership singing project. Singers meet every two
weeks at a different venue, rehearse for a bit and then perform. Anyone
can join and no musical experience is necessary. "It's an open concept
plan," says Carson.
The way it works is very simple. A couple of songs are chosen a few days in advance and are posted on Facebook. All you do is familiarize yourself with the songs, then show up. Choirmaster Ivar Palmason runs the choir through the songs several times, then they perform them.
An audio and visual recording is made of the songs and then posted.
The event was launched in mid-June with a rousing rendition of Elton John's "Rocket Man". 40 people squeezed into Thom Bargen Coffee and Tea. The owners were very enthusiastic about the event and it was a great success. Some people dropped in, not knowing what was going on, and stayed the night.
The second edition of Midnight Choir takes place on July 3 at the Martha Street Studio in The Exchange. Singers will be surrounded by an installation by Montreal artist Dominique Pétrin.
"It's an amazing venue," says Carson. "They've temporarily transformed it into this crazy space with neon colours and geometric shapes, so we thought it would be great to have it there."
Carson enjoys setting up shop in unusual venues. "Honestly, I think it's a little bit more fun that way. It's an exciting project where we can push the boundaries and see what happens."
The music picks for July 3 are "Do You Realize?" by The Flaming Lips and "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell. So get those vocal cords warmed up.