The Music Makers adult choir, one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest-running musical institutions, is undergoing a change in leadership and in its name with the retirement of Sechelt’s Lynne Dickson.
“I’ve been doing that choir for 25 years,” Dickson told Coast Reporter. “And there’s still people in it that were there the first night, if you can believe it.
“When we started, we had 12 people in someone’s living room. And when we stopped (in March 2020) because of COVID, we had 75 people in our choir, which is huge. And 25 of them were men, which is unheard of.”
Dickson said she has lost count of how many people have been a part of the adult choir, but she has kept track of general numbers. “Over the years I have taught over 3,000 Sunshine Coast people, age six months to 95 years. That includes preschool music, Kindermusic, musical theatre, children’s choir, teen choir, family choir, Monday Morning Feel Good Choir, and adult choir.”
The choir also has raised and donated thousands of dollars to local charities. “It’s always gone to the Food Bank, Arrowhead, the transition house, the hospital (foundation), like, everything,” she said.
Dickson stressed that the change at the top only affects the adult choir. The Music Makers organization was started by Lynne, with husband Reg as a founding member of the choir. But the business has been owned since 2011 by the Dicksons’ daughter, Sara Munson. Among its programs are three different levels of early childhood music education, and the Fiddlerswild violin-instruction program under Sara Fitzpatrick, all of which will continue as normal.
Taking over from Dickson will be performing musician and former music teacher Kenneth Johnson, of Pender Harbour. Johnson has directed the Pender Harbour Choir since 2016, and plays piano in the duo Soleil (formerly Shine), with vocalist Nancy Pincombe.
Johnson and Dickson agreed that with the leadership change, the choir should have a new name to help distinguish it from the Music Makers organization run by Munson. Henceforth, they will be known as Coastal Lights.
“We’re on the Coast, and our music is quite light,” Johnson explained in an interview. “They bring light to the audience. It’s uplifting. That’s the idea.”
Johnson said the next practice will be in mid-September, if the B.C. government proceeds with Step 4 of its Restart Plan, scheduled for Sept. 7. That transition would essentially end all pandemic-related restrictions, including the ban on choirs singing together in person.
Whenever Coastal Lights does gather, it will have a new member in the chorus: Lynne Dickson. “Yep,” she said with a laugh. “I’m joining the choir.”