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The Reach

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Choir! Choir! Choir!: Leadership, Community and Music

Choir! Choir! Choir!: Leadership, Community and Music

Prepare to spend the next few hours online watching a choir sing.

Choir! Choir! Choir! is coming to the 2016 Honors Institute at Wake Forest University; and if the performances on their YouTube channel are any indication, it’s going to be epic.

The brainchild of Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, Choir! Choir! Choir! began as a weekly drop-in singing event in 2011. They now meet twice a week in the back room of Clinton’s Tavern in Toronto, Canada. It’s a no-commitment choir that anyone is allowed to join at any time.

Participants pay $5, get sorted into “highs, mediums and lows” and then receive lyrics for their parts. Over the course of a few hours, Goldman and Adilman teach the singers a new arrangement of a popular song, which they perform at the end of the night in three-part harmony.

A 2013 Globe and Mail article described the experience as “both a live concert and a social experiment, blurring the line between audience and performer.”

The choir has covered songs like “Hello” by Adele, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor and “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. Upon hearing the news of Prince’s recent death, C!C!C! invited 1,999 singers to Massey Hall in Toronto for a moving rendition of “When Doves Cry.”

Just prior to that, they joined the “Music Of” David Bowie tribute concerts held at Carnegie Hall in New York City in early April and led the audience — and star-studded guests like Debbie Harry, Sean Lennon and Mumford and Sons — in a cover of “Space Oddity.”

Adilman wrote about the experience in a diary piece for the Toronto Star: “It’s difficult to describe the power of the moment, but both Daveed and I felt like we were floating, powered by all the voices.”

C!C!C! was inspired by Goldman’s trip to Salta, Northern Argentina, where he and his girlfriend stumbled upon a local peña — a kind of community gathering place. She suggested he start one in Toronto.

“When people come to choir, they’re having this experience that they could never ever, ever get on their phone or their laptop,” he said in a 2014 interview with Co.Create. “You can download many things in this world, but it would be very hard to download the experience you get by interacting with strangers and singing a beautiful song.”

C!C!C!’s performances have taken them across North America. At Honors Institute, they’ll share how they turned a casual gathering into an empire; how they mobilize a membership of thousands; and how they’re able to teach complicated songs in a matter of hours using drive, enthusiasm and talent to encourage teamwork.

The presentation is the 2016 Cordier Lecture, which commemorates the late June Cordier, the charter advisor of the Theta Omega Chapter at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. Cordier helped develop the idea of Honors Institute.

This will be no ordinary general session. You’ll leave thinking about the power of leadership, collaboration and community. And yes, you’ll also learn a new song. Reserve your spot today so you don’t miss this one-of-a-kind experience.

The deadline to register for Honors Institute is May 27.

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