Inspiring Women Edition 5: Lynn van Zanten, Executive Director of BC Girls Choir
This week we are featuring the Executive Director of the British Columbia Girls Choir. We can’t tell you how excited we are to be able to spotlight this #HenkaaBossBabe! From being a full-time superhero (mom), to pursuing her passion in the arts through volunteer and ultimately landing a career she loves, read along as we get inspired with Lynn’s journey.
Hello Lynn! We're so excited to have you a part of our Inspiring Women series. Tell us a bit about yourself!
I moved to Canada at 16. At 18 I met my husband, in our high school’s choir, and we have been happily married for nearly 42 years. I became a Canadian in 2015. We have three adult children who are raising our five wonderful grandchildren. I have taken 25 years of piano lessons toward my RCM Diploma.
How did your journey start with BC Girl’s Choir and why did you choose to be a part it?
My choir journey started when my youngest daughter was nine. She successfully auditioned for a well-known children’s choir in Metro Vancouver. Being fortunate to be a domestic engineer (stay-at-home mom) I had time to volunteer and became involved in every facet of choir management from chaperoning, taking care of the music library, member communications and concert and tour management. After eight years of volunteering I was hired as manager due to my vast and varied experiences.
We love celebrating sisterhood! The BC Girls Choir sparks this at a young age. How do you feel that being a part of the choir helps to empower young girls?
Being part of a choir offers young people a unique opportunity to experience the world of music. Singing is just a part of the learning that takes place in a choir. This group activity empowers young girls by building self-confidence, fostering social and personal responsibility and nurturing lifelong friendships.
4. The BC Girls Choir goes on tour annually and they get to experience amazing destinations. We understand though that travelling in itself may be a bit hectic at times. How has Henkaa made travelling a bit easier?
The British Columbia Girls Choir tours every two to three years alternating between domestic and international destinations. The tours are amazing opportunities for the singers to be ambassadors for their community, province and country. We pay very close attention to their appearance while on tour, especially when they are performing. It is essential that the performance uniform be pack-able, washable and most importantly looks elegant on stage. The Henkaa dresses are wonderful for traveling because they stow easily in the singers’ backpacks, can be washed in sinks/bathtubs/showers (yes we have experience with this!) when needed and always look good. The singers enjoy creating their own style by tying them differently for each concert.
5. With rehearsals, performances, life and beyond, how do you manage to balance everything and keep yourself grounded?
Staying grounded is a challenge in the world of arts administration. Support on the home front is essential and having a family who understands my passion for my job has helped a lot. Having a good sense of humour, being very organized and knowing that the choir is providing life changing experiences keeps me focused. The people I work with, my children and grandchildren, my husband, and my love of the outdoors and of music all help to keep me balanced, at least most of the time!
6. Who do you look up to as a mentor/role model and why?
For sure my mentors and role models would be my parents, each for different reasons. My mother had a wonderful optimistic disposition that I am pleased to have inherited. Optimism can make many things happen and I have seen this trait positively affect how I manage my job and the things I have been able to accomplish. Calm rational thinking has come from my father. If a challenging situation has presented itself being able to step back and think things through has proven invaluable when dealing with so many people over the last 20 years.
7. What is a memorable piece of wisdom that you were given and has stuck with you?
The most powerful bit of wisdom I have come upon was not given to me. Instead I learned it along the way in the process of juggling two arts management jobs, each with their own set of demands and deadlines. It is simply this… I can’t fuss about what I did not get done today. I need to have faith in myself and when tomorrow comes, the work will get done and be done well, and I will meet the deadline. Acknowledging this, at the end of a long day, helps to put my mind at ease.
8. What advice do you have for young girls who want to be a part of a choir?
Do it! If you love to sing you should give choir a try. You will make great friends, learn about cultures, experience different languages and sing lots of different types of music, from the classics to show tunes. It is an economical way to be exposed to a music education. Belonging to a choir will provide wonderful performance opportunities and you never know, maybe even world travel!
9. BC Girls Choir has been with Henkaa for almost 2 years now! Why did the choir choose Henkaa for their performance wear?
Our choir chose Henkaa as our uniform supplier because the product was very easy care, fit a variety of body types and did not require annual hemming or dry cleaning. The price per garment was in keeping with other uniform suppliers we had researched. And by entering into a contract we were offered a discount based on the quantity of dresses ordered. The savings are passed on to our membership so everyone is happy.
What was your most memorable performance with the BC Girls Choir?
It is so difficult to decide what the most memorable performance has been. There have been so many over the years: in castles, in caves, in art galleries, in cathedrals, for the Olympics, on TV, in festivals. I guess my most memorable performance has to be the final concert of our 2015 tour, in Venice. The girls sang to a full house at the San Salvador Church, built in 1508. The acoustics in this 500 year old cathedral were outstanding, the girls sang so beautifully, they captivated the audience and demonstrated such a bond with each other and their director, Fiona Blackburn. I felt so honoured to be part of such an amazing organization and to know that I have helped provide hundreds of girls with quality experiences, such as this one, that they will remember for the rest of their lives.