The Big Rock Singers are headed to Europe.

They're competing in the Verona International Choral Competition in April.

It's the 34th year for the competition, and they're celebrating its return after COVID.

Coincidentally, the Big Rock Singers are approaching their 34th year.

Director Carey Gruber says it's a huge honour to be competing in the competition for a few reasons.

"This is a really well-received and very celebrated event in Verona. They're getting ready just like we're getting ready. For 34 years it's been a highlight when this competition comes around. We're super honoured to be the only North American choir competing and the first time that we will be participating in a competition."

It's not their first time in Europe but it will be their first time competing, and it's been a long time coming.

"This is something we've been hoping to do since 2017 but it didn't work out, so we ended up going to Ireland in 2019, which was also wonderful. This has been a long time in the works."

Dena Stewart with the Big Rock Singers says the songs they've selected will reflect the international nature of the competition.

"This has definitely been our most challenging repertoire because we're singing in five different languages. It feels like we're singing more languages than we're actually singing English. For Canadian content, we are singing in French and we're doing Latin, Italian, and Spanish on top of that. That's definitely a challenge but it's coming together so beautifully."

Of course, it came with a lot of practice.

"It's been a steep learning curve learning everything we've had to do over the past year. 115 hours of rehearsal by the time we reach that stage in Verona," says Gruber.

Another Big Rock Singer, Jay Dick, describes the all-Canadian song selection.

"They all have a link to Canada. We have High Flight, which is from a young pilot who perished, but he wrote a poem. It's quite touching, it's a really nice song. In French, we've got J'entends Le Moulin. It's about a family building a house, it's a great piece... We've even got a piece, Sing Gently, that was put together during the COVID times to talk about how a lot of people needed something uplifting during COVID because they were isolated. Sing Gently was done with 17,000 choir singers online."

They'll also be performing at the Vatican, with some Latin language pieces.

Before all of that, they'll be performing closer to home.

Their Viva Italia shows will give locals a taste of what the Big Rock Singers are bringing to Italy with a pair of performances on April 1 at the Okotoks United Church at 4:00 and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by emailing