Westman Youth Choir:
The 53 singers of WMYC have one fabulous camp weekend behind them, and they can’t wait for the next one! Conductors are Dorothy Dyck and Ian Campbell. Tour dates are October 19-22. You can find lots of details on their FB page (see link below).
Plans are also underway for fall 2020, when this choir will celebrate 40 years of inspiring and changing young lives. This will be a grand event with alumni from far and near anticipating this reunion.
The Virden and District Chorale and the Virden Collegiate Institute, under the direction of Michelle Chyzyk, continue their unflagging surge of fabulous musicals and look forward to entertaining you with Elf the Musical in November, a Canadian Amateur premiere of this new show! Tickets are already on sale, see the poster below.
VCI will follow up with a production of Freaky Friday in May.
In 2018, VCI was the recipient of the Rainbow Stage School award, which included special recognition at a Rainbow Stage performance and a cash prize of $1,000. Read the Brandon Sun article here. Last year, VDC’s sold-out audiences enjoyed a superb Mamma Mia in November, and Beauty and the Beast in May. See a few photos below, and more on their Facebook page.
The choirs of Oak Lake (COOL) are directed by their founder, Karyn Morrow-Penner, who is also the music specialist at Oak Lake Community School. They look forward to presenting programs in local seniors homes (Virden and Brandon), followed by a time of socializing. Noteable Women recently enjoyed an exciting collaboration with Parkland Women's Choir, under the direction of Lori Suss in Dauphin. Enjoy their bios below:
Noteable Women: A love of music and singing is all the criteria that the Noteable Women need to sing in this choir. Founded in 2004, the choir consists of ladies ages 14 and up, with the majority falling in the middle of the age bracket. The roster has varied from 20 to 52 members.
The Heard is a choir for men who enjoy singing, regardless of musical background or experience. It was founded in 2009, and has grown from 13 to 23 members.
For both choirs, the ever-lengthening list of performance opportunities have included many local events such as church services, Remembrance Day Services, Christmas gatherings, fundraisers, festivals, the Souris Arts Council Concert Series, the Singers Helping Singers Concert in Brandon, and their annual seasonal concerts. Other collaborative events have included the former Sandhill Singers and Prairie Blend of Brandon. Their extensive travels have taken them to festivals in Edmonton, Moose Jaw, Flin Flon, and Halifax, where Noteable Women received a Gold Standard Award. The women have also received Gold Level standings at ChoralFest Manitoba, providing entry into the National Level Competition, and have collaborated with Winnipeg’s Women of Note, the U of M Women’s Chorus, and renowned composer, Stephen Hatfield.
In 2014, Noteable Women and The Heard represented Manitoba at Unisong’s Canada Day Concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Recently these groups performed for the Virden Arts Council’s Arts Mosaic Concert Series in selections from Handel’s Messiah, along with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, the choirs collaborated with 16 local churches to perform an Easter Cantata.
Brandon University choirs - Andrée Dagenais, Conductor
Brandon University Choirs hope to build on last year’s exciting events which included the Mozart Requiem, Motets of Brahms and Mendelssohn, Arvo Pärt’s Magnificat and Vasks’ The Fruit of Silence. Here are the dates for this fall:
Saturday, September 27: “Nuit Blanche” - BU Chorale at the Art Gallery
Friday, November 1: BU Chorale and Brandon Chamber Players at the Provincial Exhibition Dome, Brandon, 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 24: “Pairing” - BU Concert Choir at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Brandon, 3:00 pm
Sunday, November 30: BU Concert Choir at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Brandon, 3:00 pm
Konektis – Michelle Chyzyk, conductor
Konektis in the language of Esperanto means "connected". Now in its third exciting year, the singers in this ensemble strive to be connected with each other and with the charismatic music that they perform. The choir is comprised of singers from Brandon and surrounding area, many of whom are past members of the Western Manitoba Youth Choir. They include 19 music educators and a handful of opera majors. Last year, Konektis enjoyed a workshop with Julia Davids and the Canadian Chamber Choir as part of that choir's Manitoba tour. Konektis recent performances included concerts in the communities of Killarney, Souris and Brandon, and they raved about their experience at the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival in Banff, along with choirs from across the country. Konektis is a strong supporter of the National Youth Choir, a program sponsored by Manitoba Choral Association. Members Erika Rasmussen and Clint McLachlan, both former members of the NYC, speak highly of that experience and encourage donations towards providing others with an opportunity to be involved.
Thursday, November 7: Konektis presents their annual Choral Konektions Concert in collaboration with guest choirs from Neelin, Vincent Massey, and Virden Collegiate at Central United Church, Brandon, 8 pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.
The all-women ensemble, das Femmes, was formed in 1998. The number of members has ranged from seven to twelve, coming from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. Several are alumni of Brandon University. The group performs without a conductor, and enjoys presenting dynamic and eclectic programming, ranging from Gregorian chant to contemporary Canadian composers. The ensemble has had the great pleasure of joining Tom Jackson in concert at the Westman Centennial Auditorium, in collaboration with Prairie Blend, a men’s choir from Brandon.
Lasy season das Femmes performed at an Equine Canada Dressage Show banquet, at the Brandon Kiwanis 100th Anniversary celebrations, and combined forces with the Prairie Blend men’s choir for a Christmas concert, where they released their long-awaited CD, Where Our Journeys Lead.
Their first concert of the season, An Echo in My Soul, took place on October 6th at Knox United Church, Brandon.
Women in Harmony – Naomi Russell, conductor
Women in Harmony, charted in 1975, is a chorus of 16 women formerly known as the Brandon Barbershop Belles. One of their original members still sings with the group, exemplifying just how dedicated these singers are! This choir belongs to Harmony Incorporated, an international organization of 80 choruses and almost 2500 members that provides training in the art of singing a cappella four-part harmony. Women in Harmony meets every Monday evening at Trinity United Church in Brandon; anyone who would like to join them is very welcome! For more information regarding membership or bookings, contact Naomi Russell at 204-726-8569. Director Naomi Russell and President Donna Neustaedter have attended Harmony Incorporated’s annual International Convention and Competition in Orlando, FL.
Check out the photo below! Women in Harmony obviously know how to take it up a notch. Who wouldn’t want to join them?
On October 5th, this choir presented 9 to 5, with guests Crocus Plains Chamber Choir and Maroon Jive at Knox United Church, Brandon.
PRAIRIE BLEND MEN'S CHOIR - DEANNA GINN, CONDUCTOR
Prairie Blend celebrated 16 years in June. While there are currently 25 members in the group, conductor Deanna Ginn points out that some 60 singers have come and gone over the years. "One of the neat things about choral music," she adds, "is there are so many interesting people from all different facets of life and all at different stages in life. We have the privilege of coming together, with the unifying factor being a love of music." The group is proud of their diverse repertoire, which includes spiritual, classical, folk and pop, featuring a variety of languages. They host an annual Christmas concert and a spring/summer concert, and are continually adding shows around Brandon and throughout the Westman region. The choir has been featured in the Brandon Sun, and you can read the article here. Prairie Blend was delighted to share a concert last fall with the Canadian Chamber Choir in their Manitoba Tour, as well as their repeat Christmas special with das Femmes. They perform at the Brandon festival and anticipate an upcoming recording project. They are also hoping to have a website up and running soon!
Brandon Conservatory Chorale - Marla Fontaine, conduCtor
This choir was founded by Elizabeth Grant in 1981 as a project for her Master’s in Music degree. Since then, it has grown from 14 members to more than 100 choristers, subdivided into various youth choirs, with singers ranging in age from 5-18. In 2014, BCC added an adult choir named Bel Canto. These choirs continue to thrive, now directed by Marla Fontaine, and Bel Canto by Kara Dixon. They have a large variety of performances planned in their year including flashmobs, the national anthem at a BU Bobcat game, and a pre-concert performance for the WSO.
Their annual Christmas Concert is scheduled for Saturday, December 14, First Presbyterian Church, Brandon, 3:00 pm.
For information on how to join, more concert dates and ongoing news, please visit their website and Facebook page.
On Saturday April 28, 2018, the Brandon community gathered at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium to honour Dr. Elizabeth Grant for her contribution to the choral arts. Brandon Conservatory Chorale alumni from far and wide arrived to join BCC’s current singers in a rousing concert of favourites, most of them directed by Elizabeth herself. Liz, or “Mama G”, as her choristers affectionately call her, founded the chorale in 1981 as a master’s thesis project. What begin with 14 singers quickly grew to 100 by 1989. Currently, there are 71 choir members. The choirs have performed around the world, including England, Italy and France, and twice at NYC’s prestigious Carnegie Hall. Many of Grant’s former students have gone on to pursue careers in music as teachers, performers and choral directors. Saturday's event brought with it a terrific surprise by way of an announcement by BU's Dean of Music, Greg Gatien. A newly purchased Steinway grand piano will be housed in R.D. Bell Hall at the School of Music. A fund drive entitled "88 Keys" has been launched, and the public is invited to contribute to this piano, which will be named "Liz".
School Programs in Westman
High school ensembles are busy with choral repertoire for Remembrance Day Service and Choralfest, but it is also well known that Westman schools are very active in producing musicals. Here’s what’s happening:
Crocus Plains - Deanna Ginn, music specialist
Be More Chill is planned for May 2020.
École Harrison School - Marla Fontaine, music specialist
This school boasts five groups, all of whom participate in the Brandon Festival of the Arts. ÉCHO (Grade 7&8) performs at the Brandon Jazz festival.
École Secondaire Neelin High School - Carolyn Gwyer, music specialist
Neelin’s choirs are well known for their active concert calendar, performing annually at Brandon’s Festival of the Arts and Brandon Jazz Fest. In the past, the Chamber Choirs have taken part in a multi-choir project with Brandon University and the Spirit Sands Singers in a performance of T. Patrick Carrabre’s Creation Stories. In May, Neelin Choirs participated in an exciting tour of Prince Edward Island learning lots about this region and entertaining in many different venues.
They look forward to their musical, Rent, in December.
Vincent Massey High School - Laura Jonasson, music specialist
Presenting Matilda in November!
Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute Choir - Blair Chapman, director
Last May, NACI students were involved in a very successful production of Once on This Island.
The legendary Strathclair Theatre Chorus, under the direction of Elizabeth Gebauer, is gearing up for their fall season in which they visit many Western Manitoba towns. This year’s theme is Disney music.
October 5: Westman is thrilled to welcome Winnipeg’s innovative Polycoro, directed by Jon Wiens.
In Rivers, long-time United Church Choir Director Shirley Russell was recognized on her retirement from her 35 year career as conductor of this group.
Brandon’s Naomi Russell and Sandy Jasper are excited to be headed out soon on tour with the Canadian Chamber Choir to Yellowknife and Edmonton. Westman is very proud of these women.