Robert Filion Residency 2018
The Bruneau Centre for Excellence in Choral Music (BCECM) was thrilled to invite choral conductor and educator Robert Filion to work with school and community choirs in Grad Falls-Windsor, Gander, and St. John's for the week of January 21 to 28, 2018. Filion is a prestigious choral director and musician, known across Canada for his award-winning influence directing choirs to excellence.
Filion is the choral director at l'École secondaire publique De La Salle in Ottawa and works with the youth choirs involved in the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and the Conseil scolaire francophone provincial de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, Filion led professional learning sessions for music educators in Grad Falls-Windsor, Gander, and St. John's on choosing repertoire, conducting techniques, vocal techniques, warm-up exercises, listening, student motivation, and the developing voice.
With an emphasis on French songs, Filion encouraged French and French Immersion teachers and over 400 students to develop choral techniques such as tone, balance, blend, diction, intonation, rhythm, and French pronunciation and vocabulary. Elaborating on technique, Filion demonstrated how music may be used to meet language and cultural objectives within and beyond the classroom. Showing his support for francophone singers in the community, Filion also met with director Claire Wilkshire and singers of La Rose de Vents choir.
Filion shared his passion for music and education, encouraging the use of group singing to build community. In collaboration with the Faculty of Education and School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Filion led a seminar titled "Teaching Music in Secondary School," addressing the changing voice and issues of inclusion in student choirs, and a roundtable with choral and instrumental conducting students of the School of Music.
Demonstrating his committment to building community choirs, Filion joined director Shawn Bennet with the Off the Cuff community chorus in Grand Falls-Windsor and Alta Voce Women's Choir in Gander. He further connected with young singers across the province, workshopping vocal exercises and repertoire with Beyond Youth Choir in Gander and the Shallaway Youth Choir's "Jubilate" (intermediate choir) in St. John's.
Filion's residency with the BCECM brought a wealth of experience to both anglophone and francophone choirs of all ages in Newfoundland, including the Anchormen's Barbershop Chorus, Holy Heart of Mary High School choirs, and Gower Street United Church Senior Choir. His participation in the culminating "Singers Helping Singers" fundraising concert, which featured seven community choirs and a massed choir performance, helped to sponsor young Newfoundland and Labrador singers' involvement in the 2018 National Youth Choir.
Robert Filion's collaboration with local choirs has been both educational and inspirational. An esteemed conductor and educator, Filion's work with the community encouraged Newfoundland singers to continue building community by singing together.