Quoddy Voices fall concerts were a thrilling success for singers and their new director, Gene Nichols, and for the nearly 125 community members who attended the two shows. The ‘Requests and Favorites’ concert material was chosen by the members’ votes; Nichols then arranged the material so that singers could segue directly from one tune to the next—almost entirely without benefit of pitches being given!—in seamless musical journeys.

Gene Nichols directed Quoddy Voices concerts on December 15 and 17 at the EAC.
All photos by Jude Kempe.

“I’m so pleased with the group’s work ethic & skills!” wrote Nichols. “They see that they have the same opportunities for ‘the pursuit of happiness’ as anyone. We had a lot of fun singing a variety of music, and they—and the audience—bought into the ‘flow’ mode of presentation. All in all, it was highly inspirational.”

“I have totally enjoyed singing with Quoddy Voices this season,” wrote Pam Koenig, alto. “Our new director, Gene Nichols, is an excellent teacher, master of composition, and a creative and expressive conductor.  I looked forward to our weekly rehearsals and Gene’s insightful melding of songs which made the concert quite unique and fun to sing. I look forward to many more Quoddy Voices rehearsals and concerts under Gene’s direction.”

“Gene took the reins and led us along a new path with a wide array of musical offerings,” noted Bill Johnson from the bass section. “His enthusiasm was infectious and we all seemed to catch it. Great fun!”

“It is so great that Quoddy Voices can continue and that we have the opportunity to sing under the direction of Gene Nichols,” wrote alto Stephanie Higgins. “Our first concert was challenging and it was rewarding and fun to work toward singing the varied program well.“

“Singing with other people is one of the great joys of being human,” wrote Margie Whalen, tenor. “There’s something so satisfying about learning a hard piece of music, moving from ‘I’ll never get this!’ to singing it with joy in the company of others.”

Newcomer to the group, tenor Louis West wrote: “I feel blessed to join my voice with such a beautiful group of beings. My experience with Quoddy Voices brings me great joy each week. Gene is a gem; he both challenges and brings levity at the same time.”

“Many many thanks for tonight,” wrote April Mullins to the group, “and for taking Quoddy Voices in a unique and wonderful direction!”
The singers paid special tribute to her late husband, Bill Mullins, a beloved community member and longtime anchor bass singer with the group, in the form of a rendition of the barbershop tune, Lida Rose.
“It’s a little off the wall, certainly a little quirky, much fun to listen to, and I expect great fun to sing with! Many many thanks—Bill would have loved singing with you!”

“It has been delightful to start this new era of Quoddy Voices under Gene Nichols’ expert guidance, singing such an eclectic mix of styles, many of my personal musical requests and favorites, as well as honoring Quoddy Voices founder, John Newell, by singing the solo in his arrangement of the ‘Wexford Carol’, wrote Manuela Brice, soprano. “Now that we have been trained to be completely self-referential in warming up our pipes and learning new tunes via Solfège (or solfeggio, if you’re feeling especially Italian—a music education method used to teach aural skills, pitch and sight-reading of Western music) it will be exciting to see what Gene has up his sleeve for the upcoming choir season of spring 2024!”

In his program notes for the concerts, Nichols concluded, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to guide Quoddy Voices into its second phase; they are fine colleagues in musicmaking, and I hope our collaboration lasts a long time.”
To potential future audience members and singers, he added, “We hope to see you again in early May, as we explore more of the requests and favorites we’ve begun to sing, plus bring in other fine works. If you’d like to sing with us—no audition necessary!—we’ll be reconvening on Wednesdays from 6-8 pm, starting February 7, and culminating in concerts May 3-5.
Inquiries about the group may be sent by email to Nichols at gnichols@maine.edu.