To prevent violence perpetrated by young men, and help them get in touch with their feelings, Erick Lichte is coordinating a free youth choir for men aged 12-20.
Lichte is the artistic director of MYVoice—Mobilizing Young Mens’ Voices—and oversees conductors who lead the 10-week program, which is offered simultaneously in three places across Metro Vancouver. MYVoice is an offshoot of the men’s choir Chor Leoni, and it’s open to all young men, regardless of their musical background.
In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, Lichte emphasized the lesser-talked about social impact of MYVoice. Music and singing bring about a safe place, he said, where young men can “explore all of their feelings, from the rambunctious to the sensitive.”
“When you look at statistics regarding violence… men dominate that and that comes out of a place where men cannot be in touch with their feelings” Lichte said.
This year’s MYVoice repertoire will include a piece from Ave Maria, an African resurrection hymn—a boisterous piece with African drumming, an Appalachian folk song called “Down in the Valley,” and a classical parody called the Art of Ground Round.
“The repertoire is literally all over the map… we want these guys to experience all of it…to realize the breadth of what [music] is out there,” he said.
MYVoice ends with a performance at the VanMan choir festival, held at the Chan Centre. VanMan’s grand finale features a performance of Leon Dubinsky’s uplifting crowd favourite “We Rise Again,” with all six choirs participating.
When asked whether MYVoice is open to transgendered men, Lichte responded affirmatively, and said that trans men have been in the program in previous years, and added that “for many years, Chor Leoni has been a group that has been about the young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight.”
“In so many other areas of life men tend to dominate things…” Lichte said, “but when it comes to singing and boys, with their voice change, there tends to be some stigma around it and typically there are far more girls choirs than there are boys choirs.”
MYVoice registration is now open and rehearsals begin in January. The MYVoice choir will perform in Chor Leoni’s VanMan Male Choral Summit, on Saturday (March 12).
To register for MYVoice, visit chorleoni.org/MYVoice