Singing with Strangers
Winnipeg's Midnight Choir
Published On:
July 20, 2015
In this article for The Spectator Tribune, I cover Midnight Choir, a Winnipeg event wherein a group of strangers gather together at various Winnipeg locations to sing together.
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On a summer evening in June, 2013, Sarah Carson and Ivar Palmason’s dream of bringing a group of relative strangers together to sing just for the fun of it was realized.

At Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea, a small but diverse group of people came together and, under Ivar’s direction and the musical accompaniment and sound recording of some friends, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” rang out into the night. Inspired by a choir group in Toronto, Ivar and Sarah have been throwing these somewhat impromptu choir nights across the city since that summer evening, bringing together singers and non-singers alike to belt it out. In anticipation of their next choir night – on Friday, November 28th – we spoke with Sarah and Ivar to get the down-low on Midnight Choir.

Why did you decide to start doing Midnight Choir nights? What spurred this?

We got wind of a choir group in Toronto (Choir! Choir! Choir!) and loved the idea. We borrowed that same concept but then ran with it in our own direction. We really try to plan our events at new and unexpected venues, and partner when we can with artists and local businesses.

What do you think is the best part of doing Midnight Choir?

The energy. That look of surprised delight on people’s faces. And that it’s designed to be participatory. We don’t really do performances. There’s something about creating something with a bunch of strangers, then just parting ways and knowing that it happens one time only.

What do people get out of it?

Well, obviously, people get a chance to sing. Like, really sing. The kind of singing that brings up all kinds of emotions but also leaves you buzzing energy at the end of the night. And because it’s a different group every time, people are meeting people and making new connections.

What kinds of people show up? Young/old/singers/dudes/ladies/what’s the deal?

Honestly, it attracts all crowds. Young, old, guys, gals. Some people are singers or musicians while others don’t even know what “harmonize” means. We see a different crowd every single time, which makes it the most fun.

Midnight Choir’s Nuit Blanche performance at the Cube. Photo courtesy of MC's Facebook page.
Midnight Choir’s Nuit Blanche performance at the Cube. Photo courtesy of MC’s Facebook page.

How do you choose the songs?

We choose the songs really just based on what we’re inspired by at the moment, and suggestions we get from other people. More often than not, it’s one of us hearing a song somewhere and thinking, “This would be a great choir song.”

What would be your dream Midnight Choir venue?

The dream venue falls somewhere between a hair salon and a taxidermy shop. Or a museum after hours. Ideally, the space would be interactive or have a place to explore. Somewhere you’ve never been before.

What do you have planned for 2015?

We’re hoping to hit a few festivals again and really just weasel our way into some more amazing spaces. We would love to collaborate more with local acts.


Join Midnight Choir on Friday, November 28th at The Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook) and get ready to harmonize (or not) to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”

Check Midnight Choir out on Facebook

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