Dale Rasmussen sits at a baby grand piano at Gordon Head United Church where he leads Monday night rehearsals for a new jazz/contemporary choir

Soulful choir starts at Gordon Head United Church

Director Dale Rasmussen has led choirs for 13 years, most recently in Kamloops

Draped in a background of stained-glass filtered light from the Gordon Head United Church, Dale Rasmussen plays the keys of a baby grand piano.

First a regular chord progression, then one “spiced” with minor keys, as he explains the transformation of an old standard to a “new standard.”

Rasmussen is leading a newly organized regional choir that is yet to take an official name, but is already rehearsing jazz, contemporary and standards on Monday nights at the church.

“We have a group going and we’re still taking auditions,” Rasmussen says.

“It will be 25 to 40 people, which will also break into smaller ensembles and soloists.”

Leading a choir is Rasmussen’s passion. He has led similar choirs for 13 years now, most recently a six year stint with the High Country Singers in Kamloops. Prior to that Rasmussen lead four choirs in Vancouver. He relocated to the Mount Douglas area recently with his partner and is eagerly joining the many successful choirs of Greater Victoria.

“It’s been the better part of a year and I’m still learning about the diversity of the great music scene here,” Rasmussen said. “I’ve seen a lot of great choirs in town.”

A former jazz student of Capilano College and longtime gig musician, Rasmussen has been in love with harmony singing since childhood. His choir combines jazz and harmony with a high energy feel, providing many opportunities for singers to express themselves.

“For me, I want to lead a choir that uses the Great American Songbook but does it with soul, or use soulful standards we know from artists such as Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen or U2,” he says.

“I don’t want to say we’re this or that, I want to leave the door open, but know that we’ll have a theme of singing in jazz fashion, sometimes we’ll be really swinging.”

Rasmussen leads one other choir, as he makes twice-monthly visits to Mayne Island.

That group, though full of talented and fun singers, is an open group, he says.

Here in Saanich, auditions for ”reasonably experienced” singers are welcome for September.

Rasmussen will audition another intake of singers in January.

To contact Rasmussen, phone 778-533-0406 or visit dalerasmussen.com.

reporter@saanichnews.com