A love for jazz and pop music has kept the Sonatrice Singers harmonizing for over 50 years.

The Carman-based community choir celebrated its golden anniversary this week with a pair of concerts Thursday and Friday evenings.

"My friend and teaching colleague, Audrey Myers, wanted to start a group, and she wanted to play the piano, because she'd been an accomplished accompanist," explained Clarice Gilchrist, one of the founding members who currently handles publicity for the choir. 

Those original members met in the local elementary school over 50 years ago.

"She talked to eight or ten of us in town who might be interested. There seemed to be consensus this could work," said Gilchrist. "One of the founding principles was whoever joined made it a priority you wouldn't miss more than two practices in the year, and that we would practice once a week for an hour-and-a-half or two hours. We started in the fall that year, and it's been going every year since, except when we got stopped for COVID."

The original small group of singers has grown to a choir with over thirty members. 

Members have always been open to performing in new venues. They've sung in hospitals, seniors' homes, schools, choral festivals, fields, on planes, in cars, buses - even at a Winnipeg Goldeyes game.

Choir archivist Barb Stevens says she doesn't know of any rural choirs that have stayed together as long as they have. 

How have they pulled it off?

"One reason is it doesn't take long for people to enjoy the challenge of singing," said Gilchrist. "You always feel better after you've been doing that. And secondly, we became a very close peer group. For instance, the seconds would practice at somebody's house every week for years, an extra practice. We would have occasions when we would have some parties, or would sing at different community events, even sing in Winnipeg. The group went to Toronto and Ottawa to choral competitions many years ago too. We had quite a few great experiences that just made everybody want to come back."

Written with files from Daemon Parent