Gracenotes Choir is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser steak supper to support an upcoming trip to a west coast music festival.
The event runs March 17th with two seatings – 5 and 7 p.m. – at Brenda’s Cozy Cafe. Tickets ($30 each) are available from any Gracenotes Choir member or by calling 403-740-3198. Choir members will be entertaining those in attendance during both meals as well.
“The Whistler festival will be a very different experience for our choir in the sense that we will be adjudicated on aspects in a B.C. festival that vary from an Alberta festival,” explained Rhonda Sylvester, the Choir’s musical director and founder.
“There will be three adjudicators instead of one and we will also benefit from a choral workshop specifically designed for our choir and the skills they are building,” she said. “A chance to travel and perform with friends is always a great experience but the choir members will also be performing in a mass choir alongside other choirs that will be attending the festival.”
Sylvester said that looking back, she always loved choral singing herself, and wanted to establish a group where anyone who wanted to sing would be welcomed.
“Choral singing is also such a fantastic way to promote healthy singing, ear training, cognitive skills, commitment, creativity and team work,” said Sylvester. “It builds leadership skills and a sense of community that is different from everything else. Choral singing is a place for everyone, where all students are encouraged to simply ‘go for it’ and let their light shine!”
Wendy Stall, mother to one of the choir members and a chaperone on the upcoming trip, said the Whistler Cantando Music Festival is slated to run in early May. The event brings together schools from across western Canada and Washington state.
“Literally, we will just be finishing up with the Stettler Music Festival and then be heading to Whistler.”
In the meantime, the Choir is busy on the homefront as well.
“We have a Christmas concert every year, and a spring concert. They also perform at the music festival, plus at the Christmas night at the library.”
Other performances over the years have included the local museum, seniors’ facilities and the Festival of Lights.
“I think music is amazing for anybody’s brain power,” added Staal. “And what I’ve also seen with every single one of them is how their confidence has grown. And the teamwork – there is more teamwork to being in a choir than most people realize,” she explained. “It’s about training their ears to hear each other, and they have to rely on each other, learn from each other and be there for each other, too.”
Staal said that Sylvester also treats the members like her own.
“She knows them in different ways then parents do – she let’s them fly in ways that we wouldn’t necessarily,” she added with a laugh. “She also lets them grow. She is able to bring out the best in them.”
As for the coming festival, there is much good in store for them via this experience, she said.
“Whenever you take youth on a trip, there’s a different vibe. It’s fun, it can be a bonding experience and it’s just fun for them,” she said. “It’s always neat to go and see other choirs and performers, and the more adjudication you have, the more you can learn.”
For Sylvester, the joy of leading the gifted group just never fades.
“I love the challenge of finding repertoire that suits each specific choir and challenging them to strive for new or different goals,” she said. “Searching for new music literally takes hours upon hours of research to find the right fit, but when I hear the finished product from the choir, it makes it worth it.”