vr ensemble toronto

Toronto choir spent 100 hours on this tribute highlighting the city's food banks and shelters

A Toronto choir is shining a light on the work of volunteers and spent nearly two months putting together a special tribute.

After months of not being able to meet in person, the Voices Rock Canada VR Ensemble choir of about 50 people created a video highlighting the work of Toronto's food banks and shelters.

The video features shots of Toronto and the charity volunteers at work while the choir sings "Something to Believe In" by the band Parachute.

Included in the video are "day in the life" snapshots of charitable organizations — Bernard Betel Centre Meals on Wheels, Shelter Movers Toronto, Feed the Frontlines Toronto, and The Compass, a Mississauga-based food bank.

The video is the culmination of extensive planning and work, said Voices Rock's artistic director Anthony Bastianon.

"It is about 100 hours of work of editing — it is a massive, massive amount of work," Bastianon told blogTO.

The project started in early November. Bastianon sent out recorded voice tracks to the choir members and each person recorded themselves singing and then took videos around their home. Bastianon edited the audio clips and his son William, 16, did much of the video editing.

"Even though it is a massive amount of work, I always think it is worth it for the final product," Bastianon said.

The project and meeting each week is helpful for maintaining mental health even if it is just online, he said.

"It is just a great community."

Bastianon felt that support first hand after his father died of COVID-19 in April and a few months later his mother died of a stroke. Unfortunately, both deaths happened when COVID restrictions meant they couldn't hold a regular funeral with family and friends.

"Throughout all that the choirs were going, we had online rehearsals going, they were extraordinarily supportive," he said.

During the pandemic, Bastianon also noticed the choir members were still helping out at charities, and that inspired the song and video.

The video also shows some of the statistics and facts from each charity.

"It was shocking to see how much work they are actually doing and how much work is required," he said.

According to a recent report from Feed Ontario, the number of people accessing food banks has risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

Bastianon hopes the video will show the choir's appreciation and inspire people to continue to help out.

Cheryl Bower, the founder of Voices Rock Canada, hopes it will also bring a smile to Toronto residents.

"Singing is proven to make us happier and healthier," said Bower. "In the spirit of the holidays, we hope that others will sing along and be inspired to give back, too."

Lead photo by

Voices Rock Canada

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