This year the Community Foundation of Ottawa awarded the Cantiamo Girls Choir of Ottawa a three year grant to support our music education outreach program. In our mid-season newsletter you will have read a description of this program. This year’s program was very successful in each of its three parts.
Part One: The Teacher Workshop
In Part One: the teacher workshop, we had thirteen teachers from 11 different schools participate as well as many of our Cantiamo choristers. The schedule for the day was built around training the teachers on 10 pieces of repertoire that could be used successfully with an inexperienced choir. These pieces covered a range of languages, styles and moods and could be used for a variety of occasions. Teachers were given guidance on how to approach the score, how to warm up the choir in preparation for the piece, how to use gesture efficiently and effectively, and how to program the pieces appropriately. Between Cantiamo and the Training Choir, the teachers were able to hear each piece performed and also try to conduct the pieces if they chose. It was a fun and practical day and it seemed that all were happy and inspired by the experience. Here are some of the comments that were sent to me:
“First of all, thank you so much for the great workshop. It was educational, helpful and fun, as always! I’m looking forward to trying some of the songs with my choir in the near future.”
“I have to thank you again for the information and the opportunity to work with the girls. It was lots of information and new ideas. I have learned tremendously today and would love to be a part of it again next year. With great appreciation for your time and your advice.”
“Thank you for the terrific workshop today. I particularly enjoyed hearing “your girls” sing.”
Part Two: The School Tour
In Part Two: the school tour, we visited three schools during the day (Joan of Arc Academy, Blossom Park PS and Featherston PS) and presented a workshop for the school choir and then a concert for the entire school. We had excellent participation from Training Choir members and Cantiamo girls and were also very grateful to have a good number of generous parents volunteer to chaperon for the day. Even the weather was on our side with beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures! It was very interesting for our choristers to observe how different the culture is in every school and to hear the level of experience of each school choir. Our girls in Cantiamo and our girls and boys in the Training Choir were excellent mentors on this demanding day. The school students quickly overcame their shyness and were very enthusiastic about singing with us! It is always fun to see their eyes widen at the sound of our choristers singing the descant over their melody in Song for Canada! We even had all of the students in the audiences joining us in Shumayela! It was a satisfying and successful day which left each school choir feeling happy and proud of their accomplishments just as we were happy and proud of ours!
Part Three: Music Monday
Part three: the Music Monday performance, was another exciting day! Our choristers joined with 530 students to rehearse in the lobby of the NAC. Overall, the choristers were well prepared but it was comforting to know that there were Cantiamo girls and Training Choir girls and boys that would lend their experienced voices and professionalism to this large group. We were also very lucky to have a brass quintet from NACO playing along with us while Laura accompanied from the keyboard. Our rehearsal went as planned and we were ready to head to City Hall for the performance. Mayor Jim Watson addressed the crowd and talked about the importance of music education and this particular event. There was quite a bit of media coverage this year which was great for getting the message out about the importance of music education for all students. The event was covered by the Ottawa Citizen (photo and video), Centretown News, Metro Ottawa, CTV, CBC TV, Radio Canada TV, CBC’s Ottawa Morning and on Radio Canada’s Le Monde Selon. Music Monday is an important event for the Music Education Department of the National Arts Centre and is the main event of the year for the Coalition for Music Education in Canada. We are proud that the Cantaimo Girls Choir is invited by the NAC to be the core choir for Music Monday!
We look forward to continuing with our three part educational outreach program next season and very much appreciate the generous support from the Community Foundation of Ottawa. Always sing!
– Jackie Hawley