When Jamie Crooks put down his imaginary baton after the Spring show in 2014 (a prescient “Tribute to Bob Dylan”), many wondered how the magic he brought to the University Singers could ever be replaced. No fear. Through the years, Jamie’s faithful partner in the choir, Fannie Gaudette, had served more than as the piano player.
Her numerous talents soon began to emerge, as a singer, an assistant conductor, an organizer, a music arranger, a vital conduit to the larger musical community in Sherbrooke, and the key member of the team that planned the repertoire each season. Much of the success that the public gave to Jamie Crooks was as much due to her efforts as his. In 2014 she stepped out of his shadow, and took over the University Singers. The changing of the guard was as seamless as the spring show.
Her first assignment was the complete Messiah, accompanied by the Sherbrooke Symphony Orchestra, performed at Salle Maurice O’Bready. It was a sell-out show. Collaborations with the OSS have become now part and parcel of the musical life of the University Singers – which other university choir in Canada has such an arrangement with a professional orchestra? Last year’s Christmas concert and this year’s Vivaldi Gloria continue the tradition, with plans afoot for more collaborations. And the spring show has lost none of its vitality.