Making the Musical Best of a Pandemic

Friday, May 28, 2021 - By: Phil Newns, Head of Music; Photo by Kameel A, Privett '23

It’s not easy running choirs and bands in the middle of a pandemic, but somehow even with masking, cohorts, and physical distancing from one another, somehow, we have managed to keep going despite these obstacles, resulting in much success for our efforts. Our choirs and bands virtually entered various festivals this year, including the Canadian Nationals, and we have been really fortunate to get invaluable feedback from esteemed adjudicators from around the country.

In a “normal year”, we would have packed our bags and our instruments and travelled to far away destinations to participate in these festivals in person. The camaraderie fostered on these school band and choir trips has been sadly missed, but that didn’t stop us from putting our best foot forward.

We entered the Victoria Festival for the Performing Arts, and that garnered an Adjudicators Choice Award for Senior Vocal Jazz Ensemble for our AcousChicks, and a place in the Highlights Concert for our Jazz Band and Intermediate Rock Band. We then entered the West Coast Choir Festival where our Pitches Vocal Ensemble received a SILVER rating and our AcousChicks received GOLD.

Then it was onto the West Coast Jazz Festival where our Jazz Band, AcouChicks, and all three of our Rock Bands received a GOLD. Our Wind and String Ensembles entered the Vancouver Island Concert Band Festival, and both ensembles received a Superior Rating. Nine of our ensembles had qualified in 2019 for the Nationals, Musicfest Canada, so we entered three of our ensembles this year; Pitches Vocal Ensemble received a GOLD, our Jazz Band and AcousChicks both received SILVER. That makes it 6 Golds and 3 Silvers. In addition, three of our members, Justin L, Peju A and Ally D, also received National Honour Awards for their valued contributions to their ensembles.

We are all thrilled with the results of our endeavors, and very proud of our ensembles’ accomplishments, but we can’t wait to sing and play without masks and be “normal” again. Mandy Bryant, Scott McGill, Tristan Clausen and I direct our ensembles, but we owe a special note of thanks to Mike Minckler for his professional filming expertise. If you would like to see some of these ensembles in action, check the Musicfest Canada link.

Phil Newns, Head of Music

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