Members of A Cappella Plus rehearse for a ’60s-themed concert in 2019. This year the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo’s A Cappella Plus chorus marks 40 years with short documentary

Film covers group's history, features performance and behind-the-scenes video

Nanaimo’s A Cappella Plus singers have been raising their voices in song for the past four decades and the group is marking that milestone with a short documentary film.

This week the vocal ensemble unveiled A Cappella Plus Celebrates 40 Years of Singing, a video featuring the group in performance and rehearsal, as well as interviews with members and a look back on their 40-year history.

“Our big question last May this time of year was, ‘How are we going to celebrate 40 years of singing together if we can’t sing together?'” A Cappella Plus director Patricia Plumley said.

The group had already received a City of Nanaimo downtown event grant and culture and heritage grant to put on a concert, but since that ended up having to be cancelled due to COVID-19, Plumley said the city allowed them to instead use that funding to create a 40th-anniversary video.

“We didn’t know whether we’d be able to sing again in April but we were pretty certain it wouldn’t be the big flashy event with audience members and alumni and former conductors and all that one might hope for in a 40th anniversary,” Plumley said. “So we tried to incorporate all of those things.”

To create the film, A Cappella Plus recruited local videographer Mario Mercier, who studied documentary filmmaking at Capilano University in North Vancouver. He’s also very familiar with the vocal group, since his mother Kathleen is a member.

“I’ve been to so many of their concerts, so naturally I knew a lot about them already,” he said, later adding, “I was always fascinated about the group so I got to find out a lot more about them than I used to know and it’s also nice for them to reflect on their own history.”

Mercier said it was a collaborative project, and while at first he envisioned creating more of a music video, he was open to suggestions.

“Eventually, as we started creating the video, it just became a little bit longer and people had ideas flowing in left and right so we just kept adding in things and [it] turned into a mini-documentary,” he said.

Plumley said A Cappella Plus wanted to honour their members and history – “including this COVID adventure year” – as well as their audience and the city for supporting them. She said the video went “beyond my expectations.”

“I find it visually beautiful,” she said. “It’s heartwarming, humorous and I feel has completely captured the spirit and commitment and fun of the A Cappella Plus community, as well as some interesting history.”

To view the 40th-anniversary video, click here. To see the full interviews with A Cappella Plus members, click here.

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