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Apr 18, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

French school’s show choir prepares to battle at upcoming competition

Bloor West Villager

The Glee Club at the new L’Ecole Secondaire Toronto Ouest-Conseil scolaire Viamonde is ready to test its mettle at the annual Show Choir Canada National Championships to be held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the Canadian Exhibition grounds, Saturday April 20 and Sunday, April 21.

“We’re very excited,” Principal and Glee Club co-ordinator Norman Gaudet told The Villager a week before the competition.

Open for approximately a year, L’Ecole Secondaire Toronto Ouest on Lansdowne Avenue, north of College Street, is in the midst of establishing a French arts program similar to The Etobicoke School of the Arts.

“We’re a small school and we’re just starting out, but we’re trying to make ourselves known in the arts,” he said. “One third of the school’s students are competing in the national championships – I’m very proud.”

The students themselves design the choreography and develop the harmonies. Teachers are there simply for support.

“It’s amazing what they’ve done,” said Gaudet.

The show choir has been practising since October. Students have been rehearsing the songs they are performing in competition since January. The Glee Club will be judged on a number of requirements, including quality of voices, choreography, showmanship and band.”

Show choirs boast “catchy” arrangements, “synchronized” dance moves, melodies and harmonies, according to competition host Show Choir Canada. A long-standing tradition in the United States, show choirs are gaining momentum in Canada over the past three years.

‘Glee,’ the American musical comedy-drama television series has contributed to the popularity of show choirs. Trinity Mbagi, a Grade 10 student and voice trainer for L’Ecole Secondaire Toronto Ouest revealed she was a fan of the TV show.

“Born with a talent to sing, I thought why shouldn’t I join the Glee Club,” said Mbagi, who said the choir is perfecting a French religious song, among other “really hyped-up songs.”

“We love energy. We love interacting with our audience. We want everyone to feel what we feel,” she said.

Rehearsals are going really well.

“It’s wonderful. We’re practising 110 per cent every day,” said Mbagi.

The Glee Club has been meeting every day at lunch and during a morning period dedicated to what’s called “Junior Achievement.”

For the first time, choirs from Vancouver, B.C. will compete; 11 choirs will battle it out for the title of National Champion. Five new performance choirs will take the stage to vie for this year’s championship, including Guelph’s Our Lady of Lourdes CHS; Ecole Secondaire Toronto Ouest and Fergus, Ontario’s Centre Wellington District High School.

“It’s tremendously encouraging to see how much national interest has increased since we first launched Show Choir Canada in 2011,” Peter da Costa, Show Choir Canada co-founder and owner of da Costa Talent Management, said in a statement. “With over 550 students participating, and an expected 2,000 spectators in attendance, it’s clear that the Show Choir phenomenon and interest in the arts still continues to flourish in Canada.”

Gaudet called his school’s first year “incredible.”

“We’ve received so much great, great feedback from the community, from parents,” he said. “I think it’s needed in the French community, a high level of arts programming.”

The majority of students have a Francophone background. The curriculum is equivalent to an English one, but is entirely in French.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by calling 1-855-985-5000. For more information, visit www.showchoircanada.com or call 1-877-90GLEEK.

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