Master's Academy choir earns honours

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The Master's Academy Concert Choir in action during the Christmas concert

CALGARY – Success is spurring Master’s Academy song birds on to even greater heights.

The Grade 4-6 Concert Choir is coming off an impressive top 10 finish in a recent music competition which attracted more than a thousand entries from across the country. Not content to rest on their laurels, however, the students are looking to turn things up another notch for upcoming competitions.

Music teachers Cheri Peters and Hope Serate are already working on the choir’s number for the Calgary Music Festival in April, which is a qualifier for provincials the following month. The new arrangement should provide a challenge with its three-part harmony and some lyrics sung in Latin, and Peters says the students wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We threw some easier, two-part stuff at them and it didn’t cut it,” says the conductor of the 90-member concert choir. “They wanted more meat.”

“I think they’ve gotten beyond that,” adds Serate, who serves as the accompanist.

It was the first time Master’s extra-curricular choir competed in CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge. The contest featured six categories with participating schools submitting their recording of a Canadian song from a pre-approved list.

The Palliser school out of Calgary performed "Mummers Dance," by Loreena McKennitt. Choir members learned through email their efforts placed them in the top 10 of the Elementary Vocal category. While they were informed a couple of weeks later that another school won top honours, all were thrilled at their placing.

“For our first time, I thought that was great. It was amazing,” says Gabrielle Hall, in her third year with the choir.

Catherine Lu, a fellow Grade 6 choir member, says it was exciting to hear the performances of schools from across the country, since they usually face only provincial competition.

Both Serate and Peters were proud of the students’ performance and the quality of their recording. The CBC event provided some challenges in that they weren’t quite sure what the judges were looking for, and recorded performances are less forgiving than live ones.

“It goes with what we value here in our music program, which is diversity,” says Peters. “Lots of different music styles and different forms. It was another experience for them.”

The students love to perform, she says, no matter the venue. Neither do they shy away from the competition aspect.

“Everyone focuses once they know they are in a competition, and they strive to win,” says Chinwe Nwosu, in her second year in choir.

Others, like Grade 6 student Matthew Fenwick, appreciate some of the other benefits choir offers. Already busy juggling school with ballet and sometimes track and field, he says the choir provides him with new friends and different conversations than he would otherwise enjoy.

The concert choir’s success can be attributed to several factors. The music teachers are quick to direct praise elsewhere, including the support of school administration and the commitment of the students. Participation in the choir is elective, and rehearsals are held after school Fridays and during some lunch hours.

“We know that each and every one of them really like and want to be there,” says Serate of their students.

Peters notes the overwhelming support from parents as well. In booking a performance at the upcoming teachers’ convention she notes there was no hesitation from parents in getting their children there, even the day before a long weekend.

This most recent success comes after the school placed first in the provincial music festival last year.

“This year we were deluged with interested students and had to turn some away,” says Serate. “Finishing in the top 10 (in the CBC music challenge) will help get their interest even more. And they will be inspired too.”

To view the performance of Master’s Academy Concert Choir in the CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge, click HERE.