Local choir will sing at national event

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The Prince Albert Children's Choir will be singing at the nation’s capital on Canada Day.

The choir will be going to Ottawa on July 27 to sing at UNISONG 2012, a choral festival that showcases choirs from across the country.

The children’s choir will be part of three performances on July 1, the first starting at 10 a.m. at the National Arts Centre. The National Arts Centre Orchestra will accompany the national choir.

Megan Fournier-Mewis, the children’s choir director and co-director for the event, said she has been happy with the 31 children, who have been learning new music for the past three months.

“It has been challenging music for (the children) and they’ve absolutely rose to the occasion. They’ve been singing beautifully,” she said.

The choir was selected to perform at the festival after the group had sent in an audition tape to Ottawa Festivals d’Ottawa at the beginning of October, a few weeks the group learned they were going to Ontario.

Because the Children’s Choir accepts members from ages seven to 16, Fournier-Mewis did not want to take children under 10 on such a long trip. To make up the missing members, students from the Ecole Vickers School choir joined the group.

The school choir partnered with the children’s choir because they had previously attended a workshop together in Saskatoon in March. Perry Acorn, the school’s music teacher, will be co-directing the group alongside Fournier-Mewis.

After receiving the music, the choir began to practise for the festival in March.

“The choir has been asked to learn 13 songs,” said Fournier-Mewis. “It’s all Canadian repertoire that is very descriptive of the different areas of Canada.”

The songs the choir is singing are also in three different languages; English, French and Iroquois.

“It is challenging anytime you’re singing in a different language and you’re not completely familiar with the translation, it really changes the way you approach the music,” Fournier-Mewis said. “It’s been a challenge for them, but like I said, they’ve done a brilliant job.”

The choir that will represent Saskatchewan will also be singing seven other songs at three other concerts, which will take place at a few churches.  The choir will be performing a total of six times during the four days they are in Ottawa. 

 “One of the things I’m most pleased with what the children are getting out of this (experience), is they’re being introduced to Canadian composers,” Fournier-Mewis said. “(It’s) really fantastic music composed by Canadians about areas of the country that they know and about the scenery that they’re familiar with. The poetry is something they can relate to and it’s not by a European and it’s not in German or something like that. It’s not like repertoire that people usually learn in a classical setting and I’m really excited that they’re getting that appreciation for it.”

According to Fournier-Mewis, the kids have been holding fundraising events for this trip since October.

“The entire project costs over $70,000 between cost of music, cost of travel, cost of the festival and accommodations over there,” she said. “It’s an expensive thing to take a choir across Canada … (The kids have) definitely put in their efforts to supplement that cost.”

On Sunday, the choir will be having a concert at Calvary United Church at 114 25thSt. E. at 7 p.m. This performance will preview the seven songs the group will be performing on their own as well as a few they will perform on Canada Day. Admission is $5 per person and $10 per family. The proceeds will go towards whatever costs have yet to be covered for the trip.

Fournier-Mewis added that the choir is still taking donations.

“This is the first tour the Prince Albert Children’s Choir has gone on,” she said. “In it’s current form, as a five-year-old choir, it’s kind of a big venture to go that far … It’s been a learning experience but really exciting.”

If interested in joining the choir for the fall season, contact Megan Fournier-Mewis at 764-0918. More information about the choir can be found online at www.pachildrenschoir.com.

kristen.mcewen@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ecole Vickers School, Calvary United Church

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada, Ontario Saskatoon Saskatchewan

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