Young voices unite Saturday in Montreal for Earth Hour

In honour of Earth Hour, five youth choirs will perform by candlelight at the Christ Church Cathedral in downtown, Montreal Saturday night.

150 choristers present a free concert on the theme of light and hope

Five youth choirs will perform by candlelight Saturday night at the Christ Church Cathedral to raise awareness for Earth Hour. (André Knox/CEM)

The Choeur des enfants de Montréal, the Montreal Children's Choir, hopes to take people back in time Saturday night at the Christ Church Cathedral for its third annual Earth Hour Concert.

Five youth choirs will perform hoping to raise awareness for this global event. In keeping with the essential concept of Earth Hour, all of the Cathedral's lights will be extinguished and candles will be lit.

"We try to create an atmosphere that people might have experienced in churches in a by-gone era, when there was just candlelight and gentle music playing in the background," said Andrew Gray, the artistic director of the Choeur des enfants de Montréal.

"We present the concert with the next generation of the planet's curators, singing music in this symbolic gesture to the planet."

The concert is one of many events happening around the world as part of Earth Hour, when people are asked to turn off their lights and devices from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. as a show of climate action.

On Saturday, the children's choir will be joined by four other choirs, totalling 140 choristers to present choral music under the theme of light and hope.

The participating choirs are:

  • CEM Senior Choir, directed by Andrew Gray
  • EMSB Senior Chorale, directed by Patricia Abbott
  • McGill Conservatory Youth Choir, directed by Penni Clarke
  • South Shore Youth Choir, directed by Penni Clarke
  • William Aberhart Concert Choir (Alberta), directed by Erica Phare-Bergh
The lights inside the Christ Church Cathedral are completely turned off from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ( André Knox/CEM)
The concert starts at 8:15 p.m., and the lights are slowly brought down until 8:30 p.m., when they are fully off. For 60 minutes, the choirs sing by candlelight until the finale, timed to end at exactly 9:30 p.m., when the lights come back on — bringing people back to "the real world," according to Gray.

"You sit in a busy, downtown area and you're in a quiet church, where the lights have been switched off," Gray said. "You get this feeling of contrast of the busyness and craziness of the world outside just beyond the doors of the church and you've got 60 minutes to switch off your mobile phone and get into the spirit of it."

The Earth Hour concert takes place Saturday, March 19 at 8:15 p.m. at the Christ Church Cathedral at 635 Ste-Catherine Street West. Entry is free or by donation.

With files from Andrea Stanford

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