June 24th, 2024

Former university choir prof recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 11, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Retired University of Lethbridge choir professor and performer George Evelyn has received the Choir Alberta's 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

A retired University of Lethbridge Choral educator and performer has received Choir Alberta’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award for his longstanding contributions to choral music in the province.

George Evelyn was a professor of choral activities and voice at the University of Lethbridge and maintained an active career as a solo performer appearing with orchestras across Canada.

During his tenure at the U of L, he was instrumental in growing the choral program providing choral opportunities for hundreds of students, many of whom continue to teach and perform.

Evelyn said it was one of his previous students who nominated him for the award, a now-retired teacher from LCI who gathered the support from many other previous students and successfully nominated him.

“As far as I’m concerned, this award goes to my family, my friends, my support system and all of the students that I had the privilege of working with over the years,” said Evelyn.

The Choir Alberta Awards of Distinction are presented annually to individuals from across the province who have made significant contributions to choral music and group singing.

The award was announced at the Music Conference Awards concert in Edmonton on Oct. 22, but will officially be presented to Evelyn at the Joy and Justice concert in Lethbridge on Nov. 26. The concert will feature Vox Musica, of which Evelyn is a singing member.

When he first arrived in Lethbridge, Evelyn said he was hired by the U of L to conduct what they called then the University of Lethbridge Choir.

“We changed the name pretty quickly, because I thought that was a pretty mundane title, so we changed it to Vox Musica,” said Evelyn.

He said Vox Musica was part of the program at the University of Lethbridge until funding dried up over the years and the university decided to do away with that program.

“What happened was that the nucleus of that group decided that they didn’t want that to go away, and so it has maintained it as a non-profit society and they do all that they do from support from the community,” said Evelyn.

He said when he first came to Lethbridge he also wanted to start a group that would be able to audition, and gave him more leeway with regards to the difficulty of literature. A smaller group that would be able to travel and also give him some leeway to take what they were doing at the university out into the communities and recruit students for the music department and other areas. 

“So, I founded the University of Lethbridge Singers, which is still going and we had three different recordings while I was conducting that group, travelled to Europe a couple or three times, and all over eastern Canada,” said Evelyn.

He said he taught at the university for 26 years and one thing he misses the most since retirement is the interaction with students.

Evelyn said that even though he stopped teaching, he never really stopped being involved with music as it is a very important part of his life.

“I’m in my 79th year and it is still my philosophy, music is a fundamental cornerstone of who we are as human beings,” said Evelyn.

He said after stepping away from the music environment for a few years to help his wife through health struggles, after she passed away he found himself going back to singing as music is uplifting for the soul.

“She passed away almost five years ago now and so this going back into Vox Musica is very interesting. When I went back to rehearse with some of the people that were first in Vox Musica when I started conducting them back in 1982, they are still there, so that was pretty nice to see that,” said Evelyn.

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