Choir! Choir! Choir! is a phenomenon, a viral sensation and a theatre experience that is most likely different than any other at the Living Arts Centre this year. Despite these accurate descriptions, the question remains, what is it?
“We’ll dance a bit, we’ll sing a bit,” explains co-founder Daveed Goldman. “It’s going to be a perfect, fun night out that’s not too involved and people don’t have to feel intimidated.”
Choir! Choir! Choir! is billed as an interactive choir experience and it comes to the Living Arts Centre on Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.
The group began on a rainy Toronto night in late 2011 as a makeshift community choir with an open, revolving-door policy for members.
“We simply invited friends out to sing on a dark stormy night in Toronto,” says co-founder Nobu Adilman. “Our only goals were to hang out, have a couple drinks, catch up and sing.”
As that winter wore on, more and more people would show up every week for a unique and inspiring night out. The choir went from being a laid-back affair to an occasional viral sensation. Many of their videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and now they’ve recreated the experience in spaces like Toronto’s Massey Hall and New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
“We first just recorded audio so our singers could hear what we’d be up to,” said Adilman. “That quickly led to video and those introduced CCC to the world.”
The group’s success owes much to it’s decidedly unusual approach to the choral experience. No preparation, experience or even musical ability is required.
“We have a lyric sheet, which is our guide for the night,” explains Adilman. “Daveed and I warm the crowd up and divide people into groups, teach them their parts, and then the magic happens.”
Magic is a bit of understatement masquerading as hyperbole here. Their approach and musical alchemy has led to performances with David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Lionel Richie, Rick Astley and Rufus Wainwright.
“People get excited by our videos but what they don’t see is the lead up to the singing which includes a lot of humour and spontaneity,” says Adilman. “You may be at the back of the room and then find yourself being interviewed on stage.”
The impact on attendees has been significant, even early on. Adilman and Goldman have received gifts, spontaneous thank yous on the street and holiday cards for every major holiday from their singers.
“For some people it’s very cathartic,” says Goldman. “For some it’s about celebrating music. For some people they do it because they feel lonely. For some people it’s because they like hanging out with certain people and this is what they do. It’s different for everybody and I think that’s part of what’s fun. We let people take the night wherever they want to. The song is just the invite. What happens after that is what the people make it.”
As a way of giving back to the community, the Choir! Choir! Choir! foundation was formed in 2016. In coordination with the Toronto Foundation, they have since raised thousands of dollars through its annual Charity! Charity! Charity! campaigns.
As for what one could expect to be singing at the Living Arts Centre this November, it remains to be seen.
“It’s a constant back and forth between Daveed and I,” says Adilman. “We often get song suggestions from members but we have to feel like we can do it justice.”
To date their repertoire includes Canadian classics from Joni Mitchell to Neil Young and even Leonard Cohen. Adilman makes only one guarantee for the Mississauga audience.
“They’ll be really energized and unable to wipe off the smiles on their faces,” he said.
Choir! Choir! Choir! is at the Living Area Centre on Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online here