Surrey student choirs sing with pros at Bell concert

SURREY — Student singers from three Surrey schools will rub shoulders with professionals during a special music festival next week.

Members of the award-winning Vancouver Chamber Choir (VCC) will participate in the daytime workshops and evening concert, all at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday, May 20.

Close to 250 students from North Surrey Secondary, Pacific Academy and Panorama Ridge Secondary will be involved in the one-day choral fest.

The gathering is a rare opportunity for the teens to learn from those who sing professionally, says Carol Sirianni, who co-ordinates Surrey Schools Secondary Choral Festival.

“It’s a special day for these students,” underlined Sirianni, Fine Arts Helping Teacher for Surrey Schools.

“They’ll be participating in a professional rehearsal, with their own choir conductor up there and the professionals standing next to them. That’s special.”

Each of the choirs will rehearse separately with the VCC during the afternoon workshops, with public performances starting at 7 p.m. After an intermission, the VCC will on their own perform a selection of songs, known as “The Ways of Water.” Tickets for the concert are $20 via the Bell box office, 604-507-6355; admission is free for students.

This is the second time the VCC has been involved in the education-focused choral festival.

“Last year, it went really well in most ways,” Jon Washburn, conductor and artistic director of the 20-member VCC.

“We didn’t have as big an audience as we’d like, but educationally, it was a huge success.”

Washburn said the choir’s outreach effort is very much embraced by its singers.

“They really are terrific teachers, and there’s nothing more valuable to these young singers than having a chance like this to stand next a professional singer, to learn from them,” Washburn said.

“One of the main things they realize is how incredibly focused a professional singer is. That’s a valuable lesson, but hard to teach. And for the teacher there conducting it all, it’s a valuable experience, too – like conducting a supercharged car.”

Pacific Academy’s senior choir, conducted by David Rosborough will participate in the festival, as will the Jonathan Krueger-conducted concert and chamber choirs of North Surrey Secondary. Panorama Ridge’s senior concert choir, conducted by Ronald Davis, is the fourth choir involved in the event.

At Panorama Ridge, many of the singers have also been busy performing in a theatre production at the school.

“It’s been a bit difficult to find rehearsal time,” said Davis, the choir conductor.

“The kids are excited about this opportunity,” he added.

Also next week, the VCC will stage auditions for the choir, on Saturday, May 23.

We are especially interested in hearing sopranos and altos, though all voices (SATB) are invited,” say managers of the choir. 

“The key activities of the choir include a subscription series that is unique in Vancouver, extensive touring in Canada and abroad, broadcasting live concerts, recording, commissioning and premiering new choral compositions, and presenting four to five educational programs throughout each season. 

“The choir demands a major commitment of time and needs to be the singers’ top priority.”

For an appointment to audition for the VCC, contact Grant by email, grantwutzke@live.com.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com 

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