For the Cayman National Choir, Mondays are more than the start to another work week. Every Monday evening the group gathers at Cayman Prep Primary School to practice music and socialize with dozens of fellow singers.
For director Sue Horrocks, the evenings are energizing. They represent the power of music, as well as the commitment of Cayman’s community.
As the choir prepares for its 40th anniversary concert, Ms. Horrocks reflected on the volunteer efforts that have kept the choir strong through the decades.
“It’s always been a community choir. It’s not audition. I think that’s what makes it special. It’s a choir of the people. A lot of members are very good musicians,” she said.
“With the national choir, what makes them so special is they’re such a diverse group of ages and people from all backgrounds and all nationalities.”
Early summer will bring a week of celebrations to commemorate the choir’s 40th year.
On May 27, the choir will perform at the Arts and Recreation Center at Camana Bay with Jamaican tenor Steve Higgins. The main celebration concert will be on June 1 at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. Both performances will include the Cayman National Orchestra.
The choir is accompanied by pianist Naomi Allnutt. Former accompanist Stephanie Williams may join in the anniversary celebrations.
Ms. Horrocks said the choir plans to perform a diverse range of music with the hope of attracting broad public interest.
“We include different things for different concerts with a whole variety of genres. I think it’s important we make the music accessible not just for our singers but for our audience so that they want to come and listen to us,” she said.
The choir’s composition reflects the value placed on accessibility. Members vary widely in age, training and ability. While many have a formal music background, others learned to read notes and sing through the choir. The weekly group of 30 to 40 singers is comprised of music teachers, accountants, retirees and community members simply interested in singing.
Three original choir members are still active: Zeta Bodden, Merrell McCann and Celine Dilbert. When they joined in 1977, the choir performed its inaugural concert to honor Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee.
Despite Cayman’s small size, Ms. Horrocks said, the choir has had the opportunity to work with several notable musicians – many drawn by the prospect of performing in a scenic Caribbean setting.
Over the years, the choir has performed with musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, classical pianist Wayne Marshall and English soprano Lisa Carlisle, among others.