The Swift Current Oratorio Choir (SCOC) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members come from all over southwest Saskatchewan. The choir is a diverse group of people, drawn together by their love for singing and choral music, under the leadership of director Marcia McLean. [There is an article about Greg & Marcia in The Prairie Post December 31, 2010. Click the link and go to page 7.] The choir’s accompanist for both rehearsals and concerts is Amy Wiens. Typically, the choir performs two events in a season—one during the winter, celebrating the music of Christmas, and the other in the spring.
The present season (2016 – 2017) is the 44th for the Swift Current Oratorio Choir, a community choir formed to foster and encourage choral music in Southwest Saskatchewan. From its earliest beginnings in association with the Swift Current Bible Institute, the choir has worked to present major choral works to the general public, adding to the musical repertoire of Swift Current and area, and has helped to develop the talents of generations of singers in the area.
Each year the SCOC presents two major concerts, including a Christmas Concert of old standards and new favourites, often showcasing the Swift Current Children’s Choir and other local talent. The choir also performs at many other special services and concerts around the community during the Christmas season. The second half of the choir season is devoted to performing a larger musical work with the Regina Chamber Players and a variety of local and Saskatchewan soloists.
Featured music from past concerts have included Haydn’s The Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Coronation Mass and Te Deum, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s Cantata No. 4 for Easter, Clausen’s A New Creation, Rutter’s Requiem, Stainer’s Crucifixion, Handel’s Coronation Anthems and Messiah, and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man—A Mass for Peace.
The SCOC has remained a strong musical presence in Swift Current and area for many reasons. The first requirement is strong leadership by very talented directors and accompanists. The choir began under the direction of John Poettcker, who led the choir for the first 30 years. Since then, Marcia McLean has taken over the leadership of the choir. Both directors consistently achieve a high quality of performance from the choir, and the different styles of both directors have helped to strengthen different elements of the choir.
Furthermore, without the musical leadership of talented accompanists, the choir would not be able to continue. The choir has been blessed with very talented accompanists, beginning with Bev Dyck, continuing with Sheila Braun, and presently with Amy Wiens.
At the heart of the choir’s longevity are the singers. The choir draws members from within Swift Current and also from all over Southwest Saskatchewan. Some singers have been with the choir since the very beginning, while each year sees the addition of new members.
The heart of the choir is a core group of people of all ages and musical backgrounds who just love to sing, and the SCOC provides the only opportunity outside of Regina or Saskatoon to sing major choral works with an orchestra of professional players. It also provides a way to connect with other singers and musicians in the area.
The final keys to success are the people of Swift Current and area, who have continued to support the SCOC through all 40 years. The choir is dedicated to acknowledging that support by carrying on the traditions it has established, and continuing to maintain and present a high standard of choral music in Southwest Saskatchewan.
Written by Lesley Oakman