Children’s Chorus celebrating 10 years 

At a time when the Whistler community is struggling with its artistic and cultural identity, it’s almost difficult to believe that the Whistler Children’s Chorus is already celebrating its 10 th anniversary.

As the kid’s head back to school, this is the traditional time for enrolment, and with a membership of over 100, this is one extracurricular activity that has the kids beating a path to the registration table.

The chorus is dedicated to providing opportunities for every child to sing and enjoy music. As a non-auditioning choir, the Children’s Chorus is a relaxed club that encourages team work and self-confidence. Through the experience of choral music, it focuses on personal growth, musicianship and a lifelong love of music.

"Both my kids are in the chorus, and it’s been a really good opportunity for them to stand in front of a crowd," explains chorus board member, Nancy Harley. "Even just standing up and singing O’ Canada at the World Cup or something like that, means they’re in front of hundreds of people. It has really helped my older daughter do speeches and presentations and not feel nervous. I think that’s a benefit people don’t realize. When they start doing this, there are so many opportunities to be part of parades and opening ceremonies. They’re out there probably once a week standing in front of all these people. When the children start doing this from Grade 1 and up, it’s really nice."

The Whistler Children’s Chorus is also non-competitive, an aspect director Alison Hunter is insistent about. The club offers a stress-free environment to develop performance abilities. But the Chorus does participate in many community, national and international events, where they can hear the talents of others in their age groups. Last year’s festivals and concerts included performances on Remembrance Day, Canada Day, several through the Christmas season as well as their own spring concert. The Intermediates and Honour Choirs also performed in the Whistler Music Festival, the Vancouver Parade of Choirs, the Festival Celebration Choir at the World of Children’s Choirs and Kiwanis Music Festival. In May, The Junior and Intermediate Choirs were also invited to raise their voices on the Australian "Today Show," which broadcast a special episode from Whistler Village.

"At the world events, they get great opportunities to be together and interact with kid’s from other countries," adds Harley. "It can be exciting because there’s thousands of kids. They get to watch choirs from China, Africa and Russia in their native costumes. They take meals together and get a chance to chat. They also get to sing alongside choirs such as The Vancouver Boys’ Choir, an organization where people have to audition and pay a lot of money to be a part of."

The number of participants in the Whistler Children’s Chorus has been steadily growing. Two years ago, it hit a peak of about 135 kids. For that reason, the choir split into three groups, to bring the student/teaching back to a more reasonable – and personable – number. And with that many youngsters, musical directors Janet Hamer and Hunter needed a little extra help. Last spring the board of directors expanded to seven members, taking on the financial and organizational needs of the group.

"It’ll be nice this year with the extra members. It’s always been Alison and Janet and Andrée (Janyk) running it, but with 110 kids it was getting a bit overwhelming. A bunch of us were eager to be part of the board," says Harley.

Weekly rehearsals take place in the Millar Room at Myrtle Philip Community School. The Junior Choir (Grades 1-3) meet Tuesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. The Intermediate Choir (Grades 4-6) meets Tuesdays 3:45-5 p.m. The Honour Choir (Grade 7 and up) rehearses Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Whistler Children’s Chorus representatives will be at the Whistler Secondary School for Strut Your Stuff on Saturday, Sept. 8. For more information or registration, call 604-932-2979.


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