Blog Post

A Very Special Memory!

By Founding Artistic Director Jackie Hawley

The Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa is celebrating our 20 anniversary this 2022 – 2023 season with a joyful concert on Sat. June 3, 7pm at the Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre.

It has been a wonderful journey going through the archives from the past 20 years. I have had lots of smiles, some laughs out loud and some tears well up in my eyes for all kinds of reasons. Today, tears welled up in my eyes and I was all goosebumps from a special find!

In 2013, Cantiamo celebrated our 10th anniversary with a trip to Festival 500 in Newfoundland. There was so much wonderful singing with choirs from across Canada and choirs from all over the world!

There was also some wonderful singing to the whales as we enjoyed being out on a whale watching tour!

We were very lucky to see a few whales on our trip out on the ocean. Of course, we started singing on the boat because that is what choirs do! The more we sang, the more active the whales became! They were breaching, blowing water from their blow holes, and astounding us all with their magnificence! The captain told us to keep singing since it seemed to inspire the whales to give us all a great show!

One of our chaperons caught some of the experience on video and sent it off the CBC. At one point, it looks like one of the whales is slapping the water with its giant fin in time to the music! We were on the news that night and the video was also posted on YouTube.

A few days later, I received an email from a person out in B.C. who had seen the video and was inspired to write a poem. It was very special to know someone was so moved to write a poem and send it to me!

Today, as I as going through archives, I came across the poem! When I saw the name of the poet I was stunned and delighted to see that this person, who I did not know 10 years ago, is now a colleague and friend that I met several years ago at a choral conference!

What a wonderful surprise to find the poem and realize that it was written by my friend and brilliant conductor/music educator Hussein Janmohamed!

Jackie Hawley top row center, Hussein Janmohamed bottom right.

You can watch the video (and others from our choral history) here:

Here is the beautiful poem Hussein sent to us all those years before we knew each other!

Dear Jackie and Cantiamo,
Today my heart is full.
Today my eyes water with love.
Today my soul feels connected to He who is above all else.
Because of your spirit of music.
Singing for and with the Whales.
Hussein Janmohamed

**Top photo courtesy of Jane Pickett**