Winnipeg’s Rainbow Harmony Project performs a Queen classic in a new video. Artistic Director Brittany Mielnichuk and chorister Laura Donatelli were on Morning Light discussing the project. Plus a look back on the past season and details on how you can help support the community chorus!
Rainbow Harmony Project (RHP) is an ensemble dedicated to building relationships, inspiring social change and celebrating diversity through the power of song. As Winnipeg’s choir for the LGBTQ2* community and its allies, they have been raising their voices and singing out since 1999.
This past year, however, those voices found new ways to keep connected while still celebrating song and self.
“It’s been very different,” says RHP Artistic Director Brittany Mielnichuk. After in-person small group rehearsals were suspended last fall, the group went online to keep rehearsing and performing.
“We did our fundraising concert online, all virtual, Love out Loud, in November,” explains Mielnichuk. Since then, the group has concentrated on workshops including intensives on choral music, vocal technique, and diversity and inclusion.
“We miss seeing each other in person,” says chorister Laura Donatelli who has been singing with RHP for 8 years. The community chorus welcomes all voices and all abilities so, to hear one’s own voice isolated and alone in an online rehearsal or recording, requires choristers to find a new sense of confidence. “It’s very different not having voices around you to support you,” says Donatelli. “It requires us to be brave and endure the sound of our own solo voice in recording.”
Despite the jarring and isolated nature of online rehearsals, there have been some major pluses. “There are people who either for health reasons or for distance reasons have not been able to participate or have dropped away from the choir and they actually were able to rejoin us,” explains Donatelli.
RHP rocks out online
The past few seasons, Rainbow Harmony Project has presented a concert fundraiser called RHP Rocks. Featuring classic rock tunes with chorus members performing with the band Martha My Dear, the fun event is a perennial highlight for performers and audiences alike.
“We weren’t able to do that this year,” says Mielnichuk. “So I wanted to still program a song in the classic rock genre and this seemed fitting!”
Performing “I Want to Break Free” by British rockers Queen, Mielnichuk arranged the song for RHP. In addition to being a Queen fan herself, Mielnichuck points to the significance of the band for the LGBTQ2* community, calling it a “lovely tribute.”
For Donatelli, joy came not only from singing, but also by preparing some recorded movie clips for the accompanying video. “That was fun to use our imaginations and think about the song and think about this crazy year we’ve been having and try and act that out a little bit.”
Support Rainbow Harmony Project through Canada Helps
As part of the Great Canadian Giving Challenge presented by Canada Helps, each $1 donated in June gives RHP the chance to win $20,000 in funding. “Our organization stays afloat by membership dues and fundraisers and donations and concerts,” says Mielnichuk. “That, because of the pandemic this year, has all been very different and smaller in many ways.”
RHP has received endorsements from the likes of beloved entertainer Fred Penner. In a video clip, Penner says: “I’m pleased to be sending my support to the LGBTQ2* community across Canada and especially to my friends in Winnipeg who are part of the Rainbow Harmony Project - a wonderful choir making beautiful music.”
Mielnichuk is thankful for the support they’ve already received and hopes that “people are in the spirit of giving this month and are able to help us continue our mission.”
Learn more about the Rainbow Harmony Project by visiting the website: www.rainbowharmonyproject.ca