O U R H I S T O R Y
Around 1942, Max Magee formed the first town choral group, The Kinsmen Modern Choir. By 1944, the Hanover Musical Society Choir was in existence, directed first by Harry Mann and later by George Downs of Walkerton. From 1946 to 1953, Bill Hill directed the group and presented May and Yuletide musicals in conjunction with the Musical Society Orchestra. These programmes consisted of both sacred and secular music. Mrs. Ruth MacMicking of Hanover continued the tradition from 1953 to 1968. Alban Knechtel, Glen Crockford and Sam Beardsley also provided interm leadership.
The Hanover Little Theatre and the Hanover Musical Society Chorus combined to stage "Guys and Dolls" under the direction of Dr. Doug Hamilton, who led the choir during the 1970's. Dr. Hamilton was also responsible for several operettas and musical comedies, including "Mame", "H.M.S. Pinafore", "Trial by Jury" and various children's shows.
In 1975, the Grey Bruce Singers was formed and Don Miller became director after Dr. Hamilton left. The Grey Bruce name acknowledged the fact that many of the choir members were from the surrounding areas. In 1982 and 1983 Willy Wilson (who continues to be a choir member) directed two concerts. Ruth Petersen, Dolores Petersen, Ada Eby, Glen Banks, Karen Burrow-Foote, and Betty Duncan all gave of their talent as accompanists throughout the years.
The Grey Bruce Singers' repertoire now includes modern, four-part harmony in both sacred and secular music. Since the fall of 1980, Diann Leith has been the musical director and Chris Patterson has been the accompanist for the choir. With their expertise and musical talents, they present programmes of "moments to remember" for choir members and audiences alike at their annual Christmas and Spring Concerts. At the Spring 2005 Concerts, through song and film, the choir celebrated the dedication and talent that Dianne and Chris have brought to the Grey Bruce Singers through the years.
In the summer of 2000, the choir was invited to be a part of "Unisong 2000". Forty-seven members travelled to Ottawa, our nation's capital, to help celebrate Canada Day and the new millennium with choirs from all across Canada. The highlight was the almost 2000 strong voices blending in harmony to a full house in the Ottawa Civic Centre on July 1st.
With this endeavour, the choir realized they really enjoyed travelling together and singing for a wider audience. In 2001, they were again invited to Ottawa to sing on July 1st, but this time on the centre stage at the Parliament Buildings where they performed, along with a number of Canada's stars, for thousands of people.
A highlight for many choir members was a 10 day trip to Scotland and England where they had the privilege of singing in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, along with performances in other venues in both countries. This was a unique experience that many will never forget. More recently, the choir has participated in festivals in Niagara Falls and also in Vermont where they sang in the Von Trapp Family Home.
In December of 2012, Dianne Leith was contacted by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) and was asked if The Grey Bruce Singers were interested in submitting an audition CD for a December 2013 performance of Handel's Messiah.
After careful consideration and deliberation, the choir submitted an audition CD and was subsequently invited to be a part of DCINY's annual performance of Handel's Messiah at Avery Fisher Hall, The Lincoln Center, New York City!
Months of preparation and rehearsals led up to the pinnacle performance. On November 28, 2013 a bus load of choristers from The Grey Bruce Singers headed to New York City for the performance of a lifetime. Under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Griffith, The Grey Bruce Singers were honoured to be a part of a 300+ voice choir accompanied by a full symphony orchestra and were moved to tears when the audience of 3000 erupted into TWO standing ovations lasting at least 5 minutes each. It was a very proud moment for all members when Dianne Leith was called to the front of the stage by Dr. Griffith, along with other Directors, to take a bow.
DCINY extended another invitation to join them for their 2014 performance as the chore ensemble and opened further discussion for possible future performances. The Grey Bruce Singers also received an invitation to sing in Australia in 2015, something that the choir is considering.
The choir continues to reach out to others by singing at various churches, homecomings and events in the area to help organizations in fundraising and other efforts. In 2004 they entertained at the International Ploughing Match and in 2005 they participated in the Niagara International Music Festival.
In 2018, Dianne Leith and Chris Patterson announced their retirement following the Spring Series of shows. The Grey Bruce Singers conducted the arduous task of interviewing and hiring a new Director. They were pleased to meet and hire Karine Ringenberg as their new Director. Karine scouted a number of accompanists and was thrilled to hire Jordan Schaus.
Under their new leadership, the Grey Bruce Singers continue to grow and look onward to even more opportunities to present their singing to audiences over the coming years.
Revised by Maria Ballagh
Past Secretary and Former Choir Member, 2018
Revised by Marg Poste
Theatre Manager and Choir Member, 2005
Written by Diane Brown
Former Choir Member, 2000
Dianne Leith - Past Director - 1980 - 2018
Dianne Leith is a gifted musician who readily shares her passion for music and has been accredited the ability to inspire musicians, young and old alike, to their full musical potential.
She graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Music Degree (voice major under Dr. Victor Martens) from Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. She was a member of the Wilfred Laurier University Choir under the direction of Dr. Walter Kemp. Besides directing the Grey Bruce Singers since 1980, her lifelong music career includes teaching vocal and piano to students in area schools and, creating from that, a youth choir well known as the Leith Singers who performed in many venues including singing for Prime Minister Jean Cretien in 1997 in Collingwood, Ontario. Dianne also has directed the Amos Presbyterian Church choir in Dromore since 1973 and has produced many concerts, recitals and musical events in that community.
Besides being a talented vocalist and member of her popular singing family, Dianne is an inspiring writer of lyrics, narrations, poetry and musical arrangements.
Chris Patterson - Past Accompanist - 1980 - 2018
Chris Patterson, well known as a master of the piano, organ and electronic keyboard, has developed his own natural talent into a very professional sound with only two years of formal piano lessons. His music is appreciated for its unique natural quality which is achieved through an advanced ability to improvise and sight read. Audiences are wowed by his dazzling performances on piano or keyboard. Chris also sings and in high school played 1st clarinet for several years which included travel to Germany for performances.
Chris has been the organist at the Amos Presbyterian Church in Dromore since 1973 where he and Dianne combined talents to produce many musical events in that community. Besides being a superb accompanist to the Grey Bruce Singers, Chris is in demand for weddings, organ concerts, recording studios and almost any type of musical production.