Pan-Labrador and Newfoundland Youth Choir 2014

On October 23rd, 2014, 122 students from grades 6 to 12 and their teachers from all over the province, including Little Heart’s Ease, Corner Brook, St. John’s, Clarenville, Eastport, Mobile, Grand Bank, Placentia, Makkovik, Rigolet, Nain, Northwest River, Hopedale, and Happy Valley Goose Bay met in Goose Bay, Labrador, to form the inaugural Pan-Labrador and Newfoundland Youth Choir.

Piggy-backing on the Pan-Labrador Youth Choir project that has been growing over the past seven years through the Labrador School Board, under the artistic direction of choral conductor Kellie Walsh and Dr. Douglas Dunsmore, the Bruneau Centre for Excellence in Choral Music was thrilled to support this exciting collaborative initiative to bring this special group of young choral singers and their teachers together from across the province. Over the course of three days, students developed their vocal technique and listening skills, learned concepts of leadership and cooperation, shared their stories about their local communities and experiences, and learned about their own and each other’s cultural traditions, as well as other international choral traditions. Kellie Walsh describes the project:

Watch some rehearsal clips:

Rehearsing “Brave”:

Outdoor rehearsal of “Bring Me A Little Water, Silvy”:

Participating school choir teachers led warm-ups and rehearsals, accompanied the choir, and joined in a series of professional development sessions facilitated by Dr. Douglas Dunsmore and Jennifer Nakashima, program specialist for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.

Joining conductor Kellie Walsh, the students and their teachers were Inuit elders, singer-songwriter Kat McLevey, and CBC national radio show host and musician Tom Power to rehearse and present a special Gala Concert at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre on October 25th entitled We Go Together! featuring arrangements of Sid Dicker’s “Labradorimiut/Sons of Labrador”, Leadbelly’s classic “Bring Me A Little Water, Silvy”, and Zulu and traditional Oshivambo songs, among other choral favourites.

Here is a video of the full Gala concert, edited by Andrew Mercer, a music teacher with the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (NLESD):

Here are a few student reflections on the experience:

What was your favourite part?

“I liked the part when we tried to learn the clapping dance”

“The opportunity to meet someone like Tom Power (he has my dream job)”

“learning about people and where they’re from. It was a great way to learn new things and make new friends from different places”; “socializing and singing together”

What did you take away from the experience?

"I learned that you should just go for it and sing”

“I can now sing the chorus of ‘Sons of Labrador’ in Inuktitut”

“On the trip I learned a great deal about religions and traditions that I will carry with me for the rest of my life”

“It's a great thing to learn how other people from different places grew up learning certain things differently than me, and getting taught to do new things like throat sing or drum dance was an amazing experience”

“It was the experience of a lifetime”

The Bruneau Centre for Excellence in Choral Music’s thanks its many partners in this project, including the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, Cultural Connections, the Nunatsiavut government, Memorial University’s School of Music, and Provincial Airlines, as well as the schools, parents, and local hosts who helped make the project such a success. Qujannamiik!