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Winnipeg’s best and brightest visit Thunder Bay


THUNDER BAY, ON  ------  February 13, 2010  ---  This weekend some 54 voices of Winnipeg"s Pembina Trails Voices Winnipeg’s Pembina Trails Voices visited Thunder Bay. The opening statement on the group’s website provides a mission statement worthy of any fine organization.

“Now in its twenty-eighth season, Pembina Trails Voices is dedicated to providing boys and girls and young men and women across the Pembina Trails School Division with an exceptional choral experience. Through carefully chosen choral literature of the highest caliber, choristers expand their knowledge of music theory and vocal culture, and share with audiences the beauty and power of choral music.”

The young voices of this choir sing better than many adult groups, and this is a testament to continuous development of voices from a very young age. This is the best time to train voices, for one thing youth simply learn faster than adults. The performance at St. Paul’s United Church on Friday evening was a celebration of the excellence and vitality of youth. The choir came here to sing but also to learn and to share. Thunder Bay’s Rafiki choir led by Laurel Oger also joined the concert. It is an exciting time for young people to come together and share one of the best things life has to offer, music.

A quality music program needs inspired and dedicated leadership. Ruth Wiwchar and Dr. Janet Brennenman. Quoting from her bio, “Ruth was the first recipient of the Morna June Ruth Wiwchar and Dr. Janet BrennenmanMorrow Award for Excellence in Music Education in Manitoba, was awarded the Winnipeg Branch of the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers’ Professional Award and was honoured to be named “Most Outstanding Director” at the Young Prague Festival in 2007.” A short quote Dr. Brennenman’s bio reveals similar dedication, “Inspired by her mentors and conducting teachers, Doreen Rao, Elmer Iseler, and Charles Smith, Janet has conducted choirs at all levels in Ontario, Michigan, and in Manitoba. Janet received the distinguished Sir Ernest MacMillan Award in Music Education for her graduate work and scholarship in music education, and was awarded the Artist-Teacher Diploma from the Choral Music Experience Institute.

Clearly these directors are amongst Canada’ choral elite and it is no wonder the Pembina Trails School System has produced such a great music program for its students. In comparison Ontario’s school system has a music program in name only and I keep thinking of the words from a song “You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone”, to describe the abolition of choral music programs from our public education system.

So on the eve of the Olympic Games most people will be at home in front of their widescreen TV. After all cable costs so much people cannot afford to go out to see real entertainment. It is heartwarming to see the achievement of these young voices, the excitement and energy that these youth have for music is contagious and you want to hear more. It is great that this choir made the effort to come to Thunder Bay, I am sure they will all have fond memories of the trip and the concert that they shared with the Rafiki Youth Choir. Thanks for coming.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

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