Harmony brings community back into Toronto City Hall

Toronto Inspires when 70+ voices collectively croon.

Post by Lynda Chubak, a newbie to the community choir scene.

2TOCouncilMasthead2013As November at City Hall has been anything but harmonious, the fourth installment of Nightswimming Theatre’s five-part interactive new work brought welcome amicability to Council Chamber. This “pop-up” choir experience shared by more than seventy singing enthusiasts, and led by Dora Award winning music director Reza Jacobs and roots/jazz inspired vocalist Jani Lauzon, explored the political aspect of Why We Are Here! through singing and sound.

cityhall1Entering the restricted area normally reserved for Council Members feels rather surreptitious, as if we’re infringing on a distant colleague’s personal space. We scout out seats by looking at name plates at the stations assigned to councillors. Some choose a spot that aligns with their political affiliations. Others are more intent on expropriation. The Mayor’s end-aisle lounger immediately gets scooped up. While waiting, we goof around: swiveling in our leather chairs, testing out the Yes/No voting buttons.

From behind us, Jani Lauzon’s voice calmly emerges, prompting a unified hush, as she gracefully repeats an a capella refrain from a well-known traditional folk/gospel song. Continue reading

Carolyn Taylor bridges the sacred and the secular

Carolyn TaylorToronto Inspires when effervescence cultural producer a.k.a. community builder, Carolyn Taylor, turns her irrepressible energy upward to create Rev’d Up, a new ministry that bridges the sacred and the secular in imaginative ways and asks “What’s your sacred?”.

 For more than two decades, Carolyn has been an arts and culture impresario. Innovative and accessible creative and social change initiatives, such as McLuhan100, Municipal Mind, Urban Screens Toronto, Humanitas, World Youth Centre, The Word on the Street, and Artsweek came to fruition largely due to her sheer and indomitable dedication to the work and the city. These significant achievements make for an impressive career. However, her decision to turn her attention to a less tangible landscape by becoming a conduit for others to (re)discover their own spirituality is an equally, perhaps more, uplifting personal story.

Often, there comes a point in one’s professional career when a desired overhaul may seem too daunting and unrealistic. Carolyn, however, is proof-positive that mid-career re-alignment is possible, once the heart and mind begin moving in the same direction.  At 50, Carolyn officially transformed from arts maven to ordained interfaith minister. In September, 2012, she performed her first wedding ceremony. Continue reading