by Nicholas Fairbank

Our Inaugural Project


A Choral Vision of the Northern Lights

September 12 – October 17, 2020

It is with huge pleasure that we announce the inaugural project of SING THE NORTH:  STN1 –  AURORA is a concert based virtually in the Canadian Arctic.

Composer Nicholas Fairbank’s stunning 9-part a capella piece ‘Aurora’ is the centrepiece of our project. In singing his beautiful choral vision of the Northern Lights, we are transported to our Polar Region. STN1 – AURORA features the following elements:

  • Welcome sessions and warm-ups, with vocal technique for choristers
  • Full-choir and sectional rehearsals with Kathryn & Daniel to help you learn your music
  • A workshop with composer Nicholas Fairbank, to learn about his vision for AURORA
  • Virtual choir field trips, including to the Churchill Scientific Research Centre in the Sub-Arctic and to a cultural centre in Nunavut to meet the people who live and work there
  • Guidance from our tech support team as you prepare and submit your videos
  • The creation of a video performance of AURORA, in which your videos are blended with those of our professional STN Chorister Section Leaders
  • A Final Global Concert Broadcast of our AURORA video on YouTube Live, with our choristers singing along live from home across Canada and around the world
  • A Virtual Cast Party – an event not to be missed

 Although the rehearsals and video submission part of our Aurora project are now passed, singers are welcome to JOIN US to come on our Arctic Field Trips (see below), download their Aurora score, and sing along from home in our Final Concert.

Watch Our AURORA Promo Video

Hear the 2015 world premiere of AURORA by Ensemble Laude & Elizabeth MacIsaac

A Word from Our Composer

AURORA is the 5th and final movement of a large work for two choirs, soloists, piano and percussion entitled Isbjørn!, which is the Norwegian word for “polar bear.” Isbjørn! was conceived during a trip to the High Arctic with the Arctic Circle Expedition in the autumn of 2012. It was inspired by the northern landscapes and maritime settings.

During two weeks sailing in a 50 metre tall ship around the island of Spitzbergen in the Svalbard Archipelago north of the Arctic Circle, I was humbled by the grandeur of the open sky and the barren land uncluttered by human habitation, and stilled by the almost complete and utter silence. For those of us on the expedition, the polar bear became a mythical creature; we were aware of its existence, we spoke about it frequently. We saw footprints, but it was not until the last few days that we actually encountered one. With the drastic environmental changes resulting recently from global warming, the habitat of the polar bear is at risk, and the future of this magnificent animal is uncertain. Isbjørn!, conceived to be performed in a large space with side and rear galleries, is intended, in its small way, as a means of raising awareness of the fragility of the Arctic and its inhabitants.

AURORA was inspired by my experience of the northern lights (Aurora borealis), which we witnessed in a spectacular way on the last night of our sailing expedition. After an hour on deck in the bitter cold wind witnessing the spectacle, I returned to my berth and began sketching out the music. Aurora was first written for a women’s choir, which sang from a rear gallery behind the audience at the Isbjørn! première in Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, BC. For SING THE NORTH, I have added upper register men’s voices which makes the piece a little more inclusive without, I think, changing the original intended effect. 

Nicholas Fairbank, August 2020

Virtual Choir Field Trips

Every SING THE NORTH project features at least one virtual field trip, during which we travel together as a choir to a different part of Canada to meet the people who live and work there.

For AURORA, we are happy to announce TWO Choir Field Trips to our Northern region:


First, we will be travelling to the Subarctic Research & Education Centre in Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears and meet the scientists who are doing research on the animals and climate of the Arctic.


Second, we have secured a rare tour of the Kenojuak Cultural Centre in Kinngait, CAPE DORSET, to meet the fabled Cape Dorset Inuit artists who carve and make prints there.


There is still time to register to join us in AURORA, come on our field trips, and sing from home in our final concert. Simple click to REGISTER NOW.

Subarctic Research Centre, Churchill Manitoba

Saturday, Oct 10

Kenojuak Cultural Centre, Kinngait CAPE DORSET Friday, Oct 23

There is still time to Join Us!

Come on our Field Trips, receive an Aurora score, and sing along in our Final concert.