A Christmas choir with no conductor 

What: musica intima

Where: MY Place

When: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 8 p.m.

You could call it co-operative vocal anarchy. Twelve professional singers who sound sensational in their own right but put their independent egos aside to become one near-perfect pitch choir. In rehearsals, the choral group freely exchange ideas and help map out original compositions. They have no defined leader, or more to the point, conductor, and yet their combined talents on stage sound so seamless and cohesive.

The magic is known as musica intima. Lower cased, you’ll notice, to reinforce their non-hierarchical mantra.

This group of late twenty-somethings has won over the critics with their unusual take on choral ensembles. The Vancouver Sun’s Lloyd Dykk recently wrote: "I haven't heard better singing in this city… Gorgeous blends spread an array of soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices in lustrously even ensemble."

So how do musica intima do it? Alto Caitlin MacRae said the key is trust.

"Singing is a tricky thing. It’s very personal and your voice is part of who you are. It’s a fine line to walk suggesting changes," she said.

The 10-year old group initially formed as a bit of a social club, an excuse for choir enthusiasts to get together, drink wine and sing songs. After a while, they decided to take the act on the road and have progressed to the point that they are travelling the nation, appearing on television specials, joining symphony orchestras, collaborating with rock stars like Matthew Good and even singing before the Queen.

"Before we performed for the Queen, we were like ‘oh yeah, whatever.’ But once we saw her looking at us, we were totally thrilled. We were saying to each other ‘she’s looking at me.’ She even thanked us on the way out, it was exciting," said MacRae.

Another member of musica intima, bass Derrick Christian, has a strong Whistler connection. He spent a year living here, working two jobs and singing for the Whistler Singers choir under Molly Boyd. His sister, Peggy Vogler, is a local and the organiser of Wednesday night’s show.

He’s looking forward to showing his Whistler friends and family some of his original arrangements that the group have taken on for this show. Christian arranged and harmonized a new take on the classics, I Wander as I Wander and Carol of the Bells.

There will also be a carol composed by one of the team. Jonathan Quick's Angels From Heaven Came, uses a traditional Christmas text, but the tunes and harmonies are all from the composer’s very own brain.

"One nice thing about intima is that our members are encouraged to write and arrange pieces for the choir to perform," said Christian. "It's great for me because I get to rehearse the pieces with the choir and I can change things around if I don't like how they turn out, though I’m sure it drives the others crazy!"

Catch musica intima’s Christmas concert at MY Place, where they’ll sing mostly classical flavoured pieces plus a selection of songs from their new CD Nativite . Tickets are $24 for adults or $15 concession. Phone MY Place – 604-935-8418 – for tickets.


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