At a time when the Whistler community is struggling with its artistic and cultural identity, its almost difficult to believe that the Whistler Childrens Chorus is already celebrating its 10 th anniversary.
As the kids 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 Childrens 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 its 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 theyre in front of hundreds of people. It has really helped my older daughter do speeches and presentations and not feel nervous. I think thats a benefit people dont realize. When they start doing this, there are so many opportunities to be part of parades and opening ceremonies. Theyre out there probably once a week standing in front of all these people. When the children start doing this from Grade 1 and up, its really nice."
The Whistler Childrens 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 years 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 Childrens 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 kids from other countries," adds Harley. "It can be exciting because theres 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 Childrens 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.
"Itll be nice this year with the extra members. Its 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 Childrens 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.