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Cordova Bay teacher picks up baton for Peninsula Singers

Lena Palermo takes over from Glenda Korella as artistic director of Peninsula Singers
Lena Palermo is the new artistic director with the the Peninsula Singers.

The artistic talents that is helping to fill the halls of Cordova Bay elementary with music will now be the guiding force behind the Peninsula Singers.

Lena Palermo is picking up the baton from longtime artistic director Glenda Korella to guide the 68-member chorus through its spring ’17 concert series, Canada – A Celebration of Our Nation. Korella retired last year after 15 years as artistic director.

Palermo brings with her an extensive resume, working as a singer, actor and director of musicals and choral groups. She has directed award-winning Claremont secondary choirs, helped establish two Toronto area performing arts centres and studied conducting at the world-renowned Julliard School in New York.

“The Peninsula Singers have a warm, blended energetic sound. They sing technically challenging repertoire with the pizzazz and punch a show choir needs,” said Palermo. “I know that our mutual strengths with choral and musical theatre just match and that we’re going to have a wonderful, enriching musical journey together.”

Peninsula Singers publicist Virginia Watson-Rouslin said an extensive search was conducted over the summer, but Palermo quickly rose to the top of the applicants.

Watson-Rouslin said Palermo “connected with us right away” and displayed her skills while guest conducting the chorus on a pair of pieces, including one they had never performed before.

“As a show choir with nearly 10 years of sold-out concerts at the Mary Winspear Centre and a loyal audience base, we worried we might not find someone to take over the challenge of guiding us,” said Peninsula Singers president Louise Jovanovic, who took the lead on the search committee. “But Lena’s resume stood out from all the others. And she performed exceptionally well in her audition conducting our 68-member chorus.”

Palermo’s talents will be on display when the Peninsula Singers perform Canada – A Celebration of Our Nation April 28 to 30 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.

“I feel so fortunate that my first time as conductor, I pay tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday in song. I knew there was a vast collection of music from which to choose, and so I was glad to dive into the choices I had,”  said Palermo, whose Cordova Bay Elementary Choir will also take part in the performance.

Watson-Rouslin said the performance will include a wide variety of styles, from Neil Young to Stompin’ Tom Connors. The Singers will tune up for the concert with a performance at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

“Before each concert we sing at the San Pen Hospital for the people in extended care,” she said. “That’s who we donate our proceeds to, the music therapy program at the San Pen Hospital. We’re over the $40,000 mark now.”

She said plans are in the works for a Canada Day performance. The Peninsula Singers rehearse every Tuesday night, and Watson-Rouslin said the group is looking for altos and young sopranos as well as men to sing bass, baritone and tenor.  Applicants should have some choral experience and those interested can go to the website and click on Contact Us.