St. Albert Rotary Musical wraps up with Encore!
Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 06:00 am
St. Albert Rotary Music Festival
Tuesday, April 22
The 20th annual St. Albert Rotary Music Festival came to a close for yet another year during the Encore! talent showcase and awards ceremony at the Arden Theatre.
This past Tuesday night was the culmination for both participants and organizers – a 10-day event of upbeat experiences, memories, and recognition of hard work and dedication that will linger for many years.
Board chairman Alan Murdock was very pleased with this year’s outcome emphasizing the festival’s strong education-based foundation.
“I have a strong sense of satisfaction. I think the 2,000 young people who joined the festival all received high quality and positive feedback from the adjudicators in every instance.”
Winners were presented with a variety of scholarships and awards following a talent showcase of youth artists hosted by the affable Colin MacLean.
One particular group, the Memorial Composite High School Men’s Ensemble from Stony Plain, was particularly jubilant, hooting and pumping their arms.
The MCHS Men’s Ensemble, the 2012 provincial champion, received the 2014 Rose Bowl Trophy, the festival’s most prestigious honour. The 10-man choir was once again recommended to perform at the provincial level.
“It’s a huge honour. We’re still a little dumbstruck. It’s been a fine festival for many years and it’s been very good to us,” said choir music director Daryl Weisenburger.
The ensemble’s conductor for 12 years, Weisenburger was noticeably thrilled with the choristers’ strong tradition of excellence in music.
Co-music director Tomas Lindbeck added, “I was extremely proud of what they’d done. Through our leadership, they work on their own time twice a week through lunch hours.”
At the showcase, the ensemble performed their two winning a cappella songs. Ave, Maris Stella, a haunting, mystical number sung in Latin was strong counterpoint to the playful barbershop rendition of My Wild Irish Rose and displayed the ensemble’s wide range.
Approximately 80 scholarships and awards were presented. Recipients of four other major awards included Baillie Melnyk for the $1,000 Lyle Moore Scholarship; Amy Polczer for the $500 Marsha Stanton Award; and Sarah Meyer for the $400 Elsie and Bill Filipchuk Bursary, and Scott Sneddon and Justine Lai for the $150 Patricia Burgess Award.
The most entertaining portion was Encore’s opening concert with stage ready performers recommended by adjudicators.
There was an astounding diversity of natural talent and technical prowess ranging from singer-songwriter Hailey Benedict’s patriotic My Sweet Alberta Home to vocalist Tammy Ng’s whimsical The Leprechaun sung in an Irish accent.
Junior pianist Benjamin Nguyen sparkled with Couperin’s witty Le Petit Rien while the older Ryan Jacques displayed a nimble technique rippling across the keyboard during Chopin’s Waltz Op. 64.
The beginner hip hop duo Evan Cox and Kason Coughlan performed a clean-cut spoof of super heroes to The Joker’s Theme Song From Batman.
Instead, musical theatre soloist and 2012 Rose Bowl champion Andrew Boyd retreated into the world of Dickens. The Sheridan College student tackled the role of the sneaky, top-hatted Fagin, Oliver’s master pickpocket, singing Reviewing the Situation.
The musical theatre duet of Morgan Henderson and Gellen Parraguez, singing Life’s a Happy Song created a perky ambience as they mirrored each other’s movements. At the opposite end of the spectrum, sister-brother drum team, Amy and Dylan Polczer electrified and energized with the pulsating Two of a Kind.
Host Colin McLean occasionally mangled names, but armed with a self-deprecating humour and a long time improv artist’s quick sensibilities, he quickly charmed the audience and smoothed over any rough moments.
In addition to events happening on stage, Murdock measured the festival’s success by the larger audience number than previous years.
“We had more people in the audience than just parents and friends of performers. That was a surprise because it was held on Tuesday night. There are many competing arts events and lots of kids are in all sorts of events,” Murdock noted.
He was also struck by the dedicated community support in terms of donations and support of in-kind goods or services.
“Trying to raise funds is a challenge and we are no different than any other organization. Donors are changing the way they approach fundraising. Corporate donations are centralizing and they’re going with big ticket items.”
“However the community support has not been disappointing and you have to give credit to St. Albert corporations that are committed to the arts.”
For Murdock, the music festival has become as much a passion as a way of life and the building of a culture.
“It’s part of community development. The more support we can provide families in St. Albert with an opportunity for youth to pursue excellence in the arts creates a stronger community. As a Rotarian, community development without making sure culture is a part of it is incomplete.”