Artistic director Gerda Blok Wilson derives pleasure and takes pride in watching and hearing talented young singers from the junior choir move up the ranks to t
Artistic director Gerda Blok Wilson derives pleasure and takes pride in watching and hearing talented young singers from the junior choir move up the ranks to the Bel Canto Senior Choir. Many have gone on to sing professionally.
Last week, the seven to 11 year-olds, many of them dressed in their red Bel Canto Junior Choir tee-shirts, were rehearsing several numbers at St. Giles Presbyterian Church. Instructor Jaclyn Riemer is a trained voice teacher with a no nonsense, but lots of warmth kind of approach to her teaching. It is clear the choir adores her.
“Jaclyn has been with us about two years and she is doing a great job. There are about 25 singers in the junior choir and I think they really benefit by having a voice instructor lead them. It’s kind of like getting two teachers at the same time.”
Right now, the choir is in the rebuilding stage, she said. “We have to do that when older girls move on to the next stage. What we then find is that our most reliable singers in the senior choir are those who have come up through the junior choir. We’ve never done an actual study, but it seems that because they have a good foundation and proper training in the junior choir that they stick with the senior choir longer. Many of them stay with us for years. Northern Voices was formed of college aged students.”
The young singers practise once a week. And they are in demand. As a result, the choir gets lots of experience given the number of performances during the year, said the director. “They perform a lot of public service engagements as well as the scheduled performances such as singing for seniors’ homes (the performances nobody usually hears about) and last weekend they were at the Prince George Symphony Orchestra fundraiser.
“Our choir has a good grounding and good vocal background because their conductor is also a qualified voice teacher. We also try to make it fun for them. most importantly, the kids have role models when they hear really good singers because they want to sing like them.” One of the junior choir’s biggest challenges to date, said Blok Wilson, was performing at the Christmas concert with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra. “There were mass choir pieces and really some quite difficult pieces for young singers. They even had to sing in Spanish which can be tricky.”
There are surprises in store. “We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary along with the PGSO who are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year. So we’ve commissioned a very special ten to 12 minute piece for full orchestra and for the choir. It is going to be just gorgeous.” The Bel Canto Junior Choir will be performing March 13 at 2 p.m. at St. Giles Presbyterian Church. Special guest will be fiddler Sidney Wilson. For more information about the junior choir phone Gerda Blok Wilson at 562-1835.
Choir has surprises coming home