February 8, 2022
When I was in first grade, my elementary music teacher Jeannine Clark chose me to be in the play The Sound of Music. I was very comfortable singing in front of people and was too innocent to realize that others didn't feel that way.
From then on, I played instruments, became self taught at the piano and pursued as many musical opportunities available to me. I was fortunate to have adults in my life that acted as musical mentors along the way.
Looking back now, the timeline of mentors that popped into my life and taught me skills and tools for the trade were extremely valuable. From that experience of community, I've always wanted to give back to my community in the same way.
I have been fortunate to have been employed as a musician in some capacity since high school in the 80's. I love working with people and music, so teaching music and conducting choirs came naturally.
After attending the Berklee College of Music and the University of Maine in Orono, I started a career teaching in schools. I settled in Saco just before 2000 and started a community choral program that exploded from the beginning. Voices in Harmony Choirs has brought me so many wonderful experiences with local families, performance opportunities and travel.
I am currently serving as President of Maine's American Choral Directors Association Chapter. I am the new Artistic Director (conductor) of the Portland Community Chorus which is an auditioned chorus of 100 singers.
Music connects people and builds community which has always been my passion and underlying mission. Creating music together unifies people in an activity and ideas. I choose music that tells stories or conveys peace, love and understanding. Participating in a choir provides healing not only for those that sing but for the families and audiences. It's pretty tremendous.
Unfortunately, the pandemic put a complete halt on everything. I had a very successful business of accompanying in several schools and choirs, directing choirs and producing concerts.
In order to keep afloat, I needed to reinvent myself, involuntarily step back from the norm and create new ways to connect with my choirs. As a choral director, the main part of my job is to listen to my singers to help them reach the final product.
Conductors also need to see singers produce the sound with their mouths. When everything went virtual, I could see my singers on zoom but not hear them well. When we returned to singing in-person, I could hear them but I couldn't see their faces through the masks.
Nothing is the same. Everyone's lives are different and with so many changes it will never quite be the same. If there’s anything beautiful that came from the pandemic, it’s that it created a wider community and brought out a strong sense of compassion in people.
Some of the most memorable moments in my career start with having my family in my choirs, mainly my children and siblings. Sharing my profession and skills with them is very rewarding. Secondly, making music with old friends and supporting colleagues in their school programs and choirs warms my heart.
Traveling with my choirs has also been an amazing experience. From Ghana, Africa, to Ireland, Italy and France, we’ve gone to so many places to share our love of music. I love to travel and performing in over a dozen countries has been spectacular.
Lastly, my Voices in Harmony Choirs have sung with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Josh Groban, Rocktopia and with one of my all time favorite musicians and seven-time Grammy award winner, Paul Winter.
Music is a universal language. I've been in many rooms where we may not speak the same language but we can sing for each other which creates understanding and connection in a very special way. I use music as a medium to spread positivity with songs of peace, love and understanding.
Music also gives people a place to belong and a place to be. My musical experiences don't discriminate against age, color, gender, political parties, social/ economic status. Everyone belongs and that is the secret magic.
Outside of being in front of crowds and choirs, I like stillness, rest, quiet and nature. To be able to 'serve the public', I need to have time away from the public to charge up. I love movies, cooking, painting, my adult children and making my own music.
— Camille Curtis Saucier, Founder and Conductor of the Voices In Harmony Choirs and Artistic Director of the Portland Community Chorus
To read more about Camille and Voices in Harmony, visit her website: https://bit.ly/3J7SHjV