July 11, 2020
Happy Pride Season to all!
As Pride kicks off in Halifax this month, we are half-way to festival and we bring you greetings from the Unison Festival Planning Committee.
There have been many developments since we last met in Calgary in 2018. The Halifax/K’jipuktuk festival has transitioned from one host chorus to two! Moving the festival east has already seeded new growth in the Atlantic region.
Your official hosts are now The Women Next Door and the new Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus (HGMC). Both choruses are so excited to host you all.
We are continuing with the theme we put forward in our hosting bid: Open Harbour / Havre Ouvert
This theme represents our city and the festival in a few different ways. It describes the Halifax Harbour, which is naturally deep, wide and ice-free – literally “open” all year round.
These natural advantages are an important part of the area’s history and current reality as a strategic location for immigration, trade and military routes. Many people, not just in Canada, but in the US as well, have come as immigrants through the port of Halifax and the city is home to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.
The theme also highlights the diversity of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Halifax. Halifax is a hub for the region and hosts the largest Pride festival east of Montreal. We encourage choruses to use our Open Harbour / Havre Ouvert theme in your programming as you see fit.
In keeping with the theme, we are excited to present our new festival logo. We love this logo created by designer and HGMC member James Neish. We will make sure there is lots of swag available on-site featuring this incredible design.
We are happy to have some amazing news to share, because let’s face it, 2020 has been rough, especially for the choral community. It’s also been rough for us in Nova Scotia, facing tragedy after tragedy on top of the pandemic.
The good news is that Unison has just signed a grant agreement with the LGBT Purge Fund to commission three new choral works (SSAA, SATB and TTBB) to be premiered at the festival in Halifax/K’jipuktuk. These pieces will memorialize the LGBT Purge in Canada and offer comfort to the victims of the purge. The pieces will be performed by the three festival mass choruses. Stay tuned for more information about the competition process for these commissions.
To find out more about the LGBT Purge, please visit www.lgbtpurge.com, and to find more about the LGBT Purge Fund, please visit www.lgbtpurgefund.com.
We want to remind you that, in terms of festival dates, we have decided to switch things up for our first festival on the east coast. Unison Festival 2022 will take place from June 30 to July 3, 2022.
This timing will ensure the best weather possible for everyone to enjoy what Halifax/K’jipuktuk and the surrounding areas have to offer. The Halifax waterfront, Halifax Public Gardens, Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and Peggy’s Cove are all best seen in summer weather.
As well, the weekend we have chosen leads into Pride season here in Halifax. We are partnering with Halifax Pride to ensure complementary programming around the Halifax/K’jipuktuk festival.
We are also looking for ways to include the community at large in the festival. We will be creating performance opportunities at local sites and venues, so choruses will have more chances to perform and celebrate our music.
The answer to the burning question on everyone’s mind is here. A sumptuous lobster dinner will be served at the closing banquet! We have decided to build the cost of the closing banquet into the festival registration fees, so we expect a large turnout and we can guarantee it will be a night you won’t forget!
Ciad Mille Failte
See you soon and, as we say in Nova Scotia, “Ciad Mille Failte”! (a hundred thousand welcomes, in Gaelic)
Unison President & Festival Co-Chair, The Women Next Door
Festival Co-Chair, Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus