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Three Brothers - One Choir Family

Photo credit: Kelly Skinner, Friday Design and Photography

Seventeen-year-old Callum Mitchell is part of a trio of brothers, all involved in our organization. We caught up with Callum as he settles into his first season in Kokopelli after three years as a fixture in Shumayela.

Let’s start with your origin story. How did you first get involved in choir?
I had been in a different choir. I started in Grade Two. My older brother Alastair had been in Shumayela for a couple of years. So, once I left that choir I also joined Shumayela. And I was there for three years, I think. And now I’m in Koko.

What was it about Shumayela that kept you hooked?
I can say from experience, and you can really tell from outside, that the choir is a lot of fun. And Kim’s a really great director.

It feels professional in a way. It’s very high level, and we did very complex and interesting music. And we’d get to perform in places like the Winspear. It gave me all kinds of experiences that I wouldn’t get in other places.

What was your most memorable experience with Shumayela?
It was the Stories concert, the first year it was at the Winspear [2019]. That was also my first time performing at the Winspear. I had been there a few times to listen to other groups. But actually being on the stage, and singing for people, really stands out for me.

One particular piece I remember from that concert was Lunar Lullaby. Seeing the stage all lit up with the lanterns was quite special.

Obviously, last year was a challenge when it came to choir. How did Kim manage to keep people engaged? Was there anything particularly cool that stands out?
We still had our weekly rehearsals over Zoom. But, in terms of cool stuff, there were the music videos we did for each of the pieces we worked on. Eye of the Tiger was really the big one, where we put together an awesome video to go with our recordings. Everybody recorded their singing and dancing at home, and those got stitched together later. And we also did that for other pieces later in the year.

There were also smaller things we did. At one point, we all split up into groups, each with our own little project to work on. Then we got to share them, and that was also a lot of fun.

What’s it like coming into Kokopelli after your years in Shumayela? How did your Shumayela experience prepare you for this next step?
There’s a step up in the musicality of what we’re doing. It’s hard to describe, but the feel of it all is amazing.

Having been one of the older kids in Shumy, we had the space to really delve into our parts and learn them. It helped get us ready to move into Kokopelli.

The Mitchells are unusual for our organization—three brothers from one family. [Editor: It's happened once before that we can remember!] What has that meant for you as a choir member? What sort of support do the various brothers provide for each other?
Especially with my younger brother Owen joining Shumayela this year, it’s interesting to see him go through that, and to hear his experiences and compare them to mine. It’s a different look into the choir than you get when you’re in it.

What would you say to a guy who might feel drawn to choir, but who worries that choir is uncool?
Choir is totally cool! Any time anybody sees our choir videos, they always think it’s cool. I show that “Eye of the Tiger” video to people and they think it’s really amazing. So I’d say, “You could be a part of that.”

When you join choir, nobody expects you to be some kind of A-tier singer, or anything like that. We’re all so supportive. We like to lift each other up and work together to make a great thing.

What do you look forward to in the next few years, choir-wise?
I really look forward to getting to know the people in choir better, and building those relationships.