The Element Choir is a Toronto-based improvising choir that is directed by conductor Christine Duncan and Jean Martin. The Choir is community-based and inclusive in nature, and welcomes singers in different styles, of any age, from varied backgrounds, and of disparate skill-levels. The singers are unified through Christine's elaborate and extensively researched system of conducting signals by which she cues parameters (some very general, some quite specific) in which individual singers, sections, or the entire choir are to improvise. In this way, Christine, through her conducting, composes for the Choir in real time.
The Element Choir was formed in 2006 and, through ongoing performance and workshop activities, its membership steadily grew. By 2010, when the Choir released its debut CD on Barnyard Records, At Rosedale United, a given performance may draw 75-100 singers. In addition, Christine and Jean started to invite instrumental performers to improvise with the Choir. For instance, Jim Lewis (trumpet), Jesse Zubot (violin), Jean Martin (drums), and Eric Robertson (church organ) are featured on At Rosdale United, and Lewis, Martin, Robertson, William Parker (bass), and Andrew Downing are featured on the Choir's second CD, At Christ Church Deer Park (2011). Jean and Christine have worked in other communities and trained local singers in their conduction system and performing methods for site-specific, 'Element Choir Project' performances at Ottawa Chamberfest (2012-13), L'Off Festival de Jazz Montréal (2011), and the Guelph Jazz Festival (2011)
Jean and Christine look forward in a new collaboration with London improviser Veryan Weston. On Novemebr 24th The Element choir project will be in London at the Shoreditch church. The performance will feature a whos who of the London creative music scene. Veryan Weston - Piano, Evan Parker - sax, vocalists - Phil Minton, Max Eastley, Armorel Weston, Kay Grant, Jim Dvorak and a good cross-section of 50 other curious London vocalists.
Christine Duncan w/ The Element choir. Photos byAlisdair Jones@ Rosedale United / Recording session Feb 17-18,2009