The Faith and Life Choirs will celebrate spring with a pair of concerts this weekend.

After the male choir hits their final note on Sunday afternoon, director Ben Pauls will cut them off for the very last time before he steps away from the podium and into retirement.

"I've had a few of those experiences already," confesses Pauls, "anticipating - oh my goodness! This this is one of the last times, you know? Yeah, bit of a tear comes and finds its way into my eyes."

Choral director Ben Pauls

It's been a very good year for the choir said Pauls.

"We've had 33 members this year. It's a wonderful bunch of guys! They bring a very good spirit with them; always a good sense of camaraderie that we enjoy. And then of course, we are the beneficiaries of the amazing gift and musicianship that Loren Hiebert brings to us at the piano. The wonderful support that he brings, but also a subtle leadership. When he goes at it on the piano, he just brings out a wonderful spirit that inspires all of us."

Pauls first joined the choir in 2003, taking over from Henry Engbrecht. That initial stint lasted till 2007. He took up the role again in 2016.

"That's probably 12 years altogether. Perhaps the biggest thing would be the honor that it's been to be asked to do this and then realizing that you're stepping into the shoes of George Wiebe and then later Henry Engbrecht, who both led the choir for a good number of years. That's not to be understated. Certainly, it's been a challenge - not to underestimate that either - the work that it takes: repertoire choices and recruitment and contact with churches and the whole administration of it. But definitely very fulfilling, absolutely."

With no concrete plans for the immediate future, Pauls hopes to stay connected to music in some way.

"The [Canadian Mennonite University] Festival Chorus, that kind of thing, perhaps there. But then, [you hear] the voice of aging. Your mind wants to think that it’s still 30 years old, but the body is saying something different. So, no definite plans at the moment. But little things keep coming up. I look forward to whatever surprises there might be down the road."

The Faith and Life Choirs are a mission of Mennonite Church Manitoba.

Their spring concerts featuring the Women's Chorus under Janet Brenneman and the Male Choir led by Pauls, take place on Saturday, May 4th at 7:00 pm at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg and on Sunday afternoon at 3 at Morden Mennonite Church.


~With files from Michelle Sawatzky~