A Toronto-based Syrian children’s choir is to be seen and heard at an international festival at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center, thanks to some fast footwork and the original thinking of Canadian a cappella group Countermeasure.
Fei Tang, general manager of the Nai Kids Choir, said the chorus of about 60 Canadian newcomers between the ages five and 15 were invited to perform at the Serenade! Choral Festival in Washington next week, but were forced to cancel due to the Trump administration’s recently upheld travel ban on people from Muslim majority countries.
Then Neeta Helms, president and founder of Classical Movements, suggested the choir video record their set which could be played at Kennedy Center finale concert.
Knowing that acclaimed a cappella ensemble Countermeasure are also from Toronto and have recorded professional videos, she reached out to the group to ask for the name of its videographer. CM did one step better by offering to work out the logistics and cover the cost of creating the video.
CM also wanted to bring a festival like event to Nai, and so they created a mini-festival afternoon made up of a meeting of both choirs, a friendship concert where they sing for each other, and a workshop. Countermeasure covered the cost of filming, sourced the venue (which was donated by the Miles Nadal JCC along with the cost of a lighting tech), hired the video crew and paid for the audio and video mixes. It was shot by Merik Williams Photography.
Since forming in 2010, Countermeasure, led by Aaron Jensen, has earned critical acclaim worldwide, demonstrating musical versatility as they shared stages with a cappella giants including Naturally 7 and The Swingle Singers and top 40 stars like Corey Hart and Blue Rodeo. The group has been featured at high-profile jazz festivals, concert series, and galas, as well as on CBC Radio and TV, Global TV, Rogers TV and City TV, and CP24 TV. They are a founding artist of SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival, Canada’s premier a cappella festival. They have toured the US, Canada, the UK, and, most recently, Japan.
So, some fast thinking and fancy footwork have Canada’s Syrian children’s choir trumping Trump’s travel ban and bringing their magic to the capital city. The craziness of it all is best summed up in a headline appearing in the June 21st edition of The Washington Post: Our newest fear at the border: A children’s choir.