Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Tone Cluster sings out against bullying

Ottawa choir teams up with high schools to raise anti-bullying awareness

High school choirs and Tone Cluster practise for their upcoming anti-bullying concert, Words.3. Credit: Tone Cluster

Important social issues are often treated as fads, easily forgotten when the next hot topic appears. Before you know it, we’re on to the Sochi Winter Olympics, the race for Somerset Ward, Ebola or Stephen Harper’s machinations (and drop each of them in turn just as quickly as we took them up). So the primary objective of Tone Cluster’s upcoming concert, Words.3, is to remind people that there’s still work to be done when it comes to bullying. 

This is the third edition of the queer choir’s anti-bullying concert. “The issue is not going away, so we want to make sure people keep talking about it,” says Kurt Ala-Kantti, one of the organizers. “You might sort of forget about bullying for a bit until you hear about another person taking their life. Maybe keeping it in the forefront of people’s minds could prevent something bad from happening.” 

Each year, Tone Cluster invites high school choirs to participate in the concert, and this year they will be joined by choirs from Glebe Collegiate Institute, Canterbury High School and École secondaire publique De La Salle. With special guest director Scott Leithead at the helm, the concert will include pieces by each of the choirs individually, as well as two or three by all the choirs combined. 

When the choirs team up they will generate, as Ala-Kantti puts it, “massive sound.” One of the songs the combined choirs will sing is a traditional Zulu song called “Kwela Kwela.” 

“Scott Leithead is an African music specialist, so we could hardly do a concert without some African content,” Ala-Kantti says. “In this song, the word kwela [means] ‘Get up!’ It is an invitation to join the dance but also serves as a warning.” They will also sing “Don’t Be Afraid” in honour of Scott Jones and his anti-homophobia campaign, also called Don’t Be Afraid.