GPRC Concert Choir performing in the City that never Sleeps

GPRC Concert Choir performing in the City that never Sleeps

MacKenzie Lowen, a second-year Bachelor of Music student at GPRC, will get a chance that few aspiring singers ever get to experience.

MacKenzie Lowen

She, along with the rest of the GPRC Concert Choir, is getting the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in a week’s time.

Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) extended an invitation to the choir led by GPRC Fine Arts instructor Tina Alexander-Luna to participate in a performance of Handel’s Messiah on the DCINY Concert Series in New York City. The performance in Isaac Stem Auditorium at Carnegie Hall will take place on Sunday, November 25, 2018.

We caught up with MacKenzie and picked her brain about the upcoming experience as well as got some background on just how the Concert Choir is preparing for this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Check it out ⬇

How long have you been studying voice?

I have been studying voice since September 2017 when I started my Bachelor of Music degree at GPRC. I have been singing all my life but have not had any lessons or vocal instruction prior to attending GPRC, so I’m learning a lot about how the voice works and how to support the voice properly.

What does it mean to you as a GPRC music student to have the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall?

It is an amazing to get this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to sing in Carnegie Hall! I’m beyond thrilled to have the chance to do something so big in my second year of college. I’m honestly a little star struck about performing in Carnegie Hall, and have been eagerly anticipating this trip since it was announced earlier this year.

What has the concert preparations been like? Do you have to practice on your own at all?

The concert preparations have been Tuesday evening rehearsals and an hour rehearsal on Thursdays for the students in the choir. A large musical work like Handel’s “Messiah” needs extra practice to make sure it’s familiar to the choir members because we only have so much time before New York. Outside of choir rehearsals, I’ve had to do a lot of practice on my own to familiarize myself with the music and to be confident in the pieces we will be singing in Carnegie Hall. At this point, I’ve started to really enjoy practicing my parts in my own time. I find it to be quite relaxing and it’s a beautiful piece of music to listen to.

How long is Handel’s “Messiah”? Do you have to memorize your music?!

Handel’s “Messiah” is quite a long piece in its entirety- it’s more than 2 hours of music, with orchestra, soloists, and the choral pieces. If I had to memorize Handel’s “Messiah”, I don’t think I’d be able to do it! There’s so much to learn, which makes me very glad that we have the musical score and aren’t required to memorize the pieces we’re performing. However, it’s very highly encouraged to know your part well enough that you feel comfortable with following along with the music, and comfortable enough to look up at the conductor! The better I know the music, the more I enjoy the experience of choral singing!

Other than performing in NYC, what else will you be doing while visiting there, or what else are you looking forward to doing?

Other than performing in New York with choirs from around the world, I will be going with a group of choir members to view a triple bill opera, so that’s three one hour operas and that will be at the Metropolitan Opera House. I’ve fallen in love with opera, so this is one of the things I most look forward to. I’m also very eager to tour the Steinway Hall in New York because of the Steinway grand piano the piano students have the great privilege of playing on at GPRC. I’m also excited about seeing a live Broadway show while we’re there, as we will all be going to see the Broadway Revival of “My Fair Lady” at the Lincoln Centre. There’s just so many exciting things to do in New York! 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Once we get home from New York, there will be a choir concert here in town which will be on December 1 in the Douglas J. Cardinal Performing Arts Centre in GPRC. At this concert, we will be performing selections from Handel’s “Messiah”, including some solos performed by members of the choir. This concert will be a great opportunity for locals to hear some of the music we performed in New York. I will actually be featured as one of the soloists singing the aria for soprano, “How Beautiful are the feet”. It will be a fabulous concert in collaboration with members of the Grande Prairie Symphony Orchestra.

To learn more about the GPRC Concert Choir, click here. 

Get your tickets today for their December 1 performance at GPRC, here. 


Excited Things Ahead for GPRC Concert Choir

Excited Things Ahead for GPRC Concert Choir

Spring is finally here and GPRC’s Concert Choir has a lot to look forward to!

GPRC Fine Arts Instructor, Tina Alexander-Luna and her concert choir received a once in a life-time opportunity this past January.

Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) extended an invitation to the group to participate in a performance of Handel’s Messiah on the DCINY Concert Series in New York City. This performance in Isaac Stem Auditorium at Carnegie Hall will take place on Sunday, November 25, 2018.

Congratulations to Tina and the GPRC Concert Choir singers on this wonderful achievement and recognition.

Congratulations to GPRC Drama Instructor, Michelle Rios!

Congratulations to GPRC Drama Instructor, Michelle Rios!

It’s an exciting time in our GPRC Fine Arts department.

On February 5, the 2018 Helen Hayes Nominations for Theatre were announced in Washington, D.C. and the College’s very own Michelle Rios, Drama instructor in Fine Arts, has been nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress for her recent work in a musical called “In the Heights”.

Photo from Michelle’s website at

Broadway veteran Michelle Rios, whose theatrical credits include supporting roles in multiple Tony-Award nominated productions. With a career spanning over 25 years as an actor, singer, educator, writer, director, and theatre facilitator, Rios has worked alongside talents ranging from Paul Simon and Eva Longoria, to Lin Manuel Miranda and numerous Academy Award nominees.

It was love that brought Rios from her native New York to Canada. “I married a Canadian, and I’m proud to call Canada my home,” says Rios, who earned her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Alberta. ​

“What I hope to instill in the next generation of performing artists, educators and community members is a greater understanding of what goes into the creative process of theatre. It’s a balance of both practice and theory.

“Can you imagine a world without music, films, visual art, and live theatre performances? I often pose that question to individuals who believe the fine arts aren’t viable or significant.

“I’ve witnessed first-hand how the fine arts are not only entertaining, but also educational, healing, and essential to our day-to-day existence. Through drama, students may strengthen their public speaking skills, explore self-expression, and improve interpersonal relationships in a safe environment that is also highly collaborative.

“Regardless of their career path, the skills they learn through drama will only enhance their professional and personal journeys.”

One of Michelle’s Drama classes at GPRC.

Rios has taught in various academic institutions, including the University of Alberta, and has led theatre workshops across the continent, from Juilliard in New York to the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. She now continues to share her talents at GPRC.

The awards will be presented May 14, 2018. Once again, our sincere congratulations to you, Michelle for this prestigious honor.

Read more about Michelle and her career path here.

Learn more about the Drama program at GPRC here.

Check out the student success story we wrote on one of Michelle’s students, Emily here.

Future Present: GPRC Alumni & Colleagues Exhibition

Future Present: GPRC Alumni & Colleagues Exhibition

Join us tonight, January 26 for the opening reception of Future Present.

GPRC is excited to partner with The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie in celebrating the College’s 50th anniversary with this special exhibition, curated by Faculty in the Fine Arts Department.

The exhibition will run January 26 to March 20 and will showcase artwork by past students, faculty and staff.

The concept for the art exhibition started during the College’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016-17. The show features 15 artists.

Let’s meet those artists now.

Dan Arberry studied Fine Art at GPRC for three years before finishing his Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Calgary in 1998. He returned to Grande Prairie to give back to the arts community. Currently he teaches drawing at the Centre for Creative Arts and has been on the Board of Directors for eight years. In addition, Arberry helps others organize art exhibitions, mentors youth, and promotes the idea that art is for everyone.

Kasie Campbell is a visual artist working in Edmonton. Campbell’s work is provocative, combining elements of sculpture, photography, and installation into large scale arrangements. Her goal is to confuse notions of appeal with revolt and pleasure with disgust as well as generate a sense of empathy from the viewer. In 2015, Campbell won the Outstanding Student Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Centre in New Jersey for her work Scopophilia. Two of her sculptures are currently on view at the City of Edmonton’s public art collection in Borden Park until 2019.

Fiona Connell moved to Grande Prairie in 1973 where she studied set design and costumes for theatre at GPRC. She finished her Bachelor of Fine Art (painting) at the University of Calgary and her Master of Fine Art (Painting/Mixed Media) at the University of Alberta. Connell’s series of works, Dwellings, examines the home as a symbol of life. Her choice of materials represents the concept of stereotypical ‘women’s work.’ These pieces are meant to create a starting point for the viewer to make connections of their own and awaken narratives for themselves.

Janet Farnquist completed her Visual Arts and Design Diploma at GPRC in 2015. She works in painting and sculpture and has participated in several group shows in the Peace Region. Her recent works in painting focus on the exploration of the subconscious mind. Farnquist currently resides in Grande Prairie where she is the Coordinator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie.

Jennifer Ferris was born and raised in Grande Prairie and graduated with a diploma in Visual Arts and Design from GPRC in 2016. Her work is inspired by Canada, nature, and the places that she has visited throughout her life. Her goal is to capture and share the beauty of her home and the places around her.

Ashley Gaboury attended GPRC before receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003 from the University of Lethbridge. Gaboury uses a variety of mediums including watercolor pencils, alcohol-based markers, acrylics, and mixed media. She is a professional artist and has established herself as an art instructor having previously worked as an instructor at the Prairie Art Gallery (now the AGGP).

Tim Heimdal completed a Fine Art Diploma at GPRC and continued his studies at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary.  His work often displays figurative expression.  Heimdal started painting murals as one of his main modes of artistic expression in 1984.  He has designed and painted over 100 murals, over 100 sets for theatre events and exhibited paintings.  His work has been featured across Alberta, Canada, the US and Japan.

Dinosaur Tales

In 2005 Tim completed a series of murals for the Grande Prairie Heritage Museum expansion.  Roy Bickel, President of the Museum Board, told Tim he had a dream to build a dinosaur museum.  Tim replied that he would love to do a mural there.

Roy remembered his conversation with Tim and eight years later Tim was contracted to create a mural for the Aykroyd Family Theatre in the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Wembley, AB. Tim designed and painted Dinosaur Tales which he dedicates to the memory of visionary Roy Bickel.

Kenzie Housego attended GPRC and holds a Visual Communication certificate as well as a Bachelor of Fine Art (Print Media) from the Alberta College of Art and Design. Her art practice involves mixed media, performance, fashion design, and wearable artwork. Housego is drawn to found objects and imagery with a sense of history, investigating narratives of a romanticized past as well as reflecting on stereotypical images of the feminine by highlighting contemporary modes of beauty and addressing the notions of the relationship between hunger and desire.

Katherine Moe was born and raised in Northern Alberta and attended GPRC to pursue her passion for the arts. She received her diploma for Visual Arts and Design in 2017. Her acrylic paintings use bold colours and large gestural strokes exploring texture and experimental techniques to create light. Her inspiration comes from a sense of nostalgia carried by sounds, patterns of light, or the waft of a fragrance.

Candace Sanderson studied Visual Arts and Design at GPRC in 1994 and developed a passion for sculpting with wood. Her creations consist of organic forms that are rich with colour and depth. Sanderson spends part of each year in British Columbia and her sculptures reflect the influences of Canada’s West Coast yet remain grounded in the Peace Region that shaped her youth.

Kiren Niki Sangra received a diploma in Visual Arts and Design from GPRC in 2002. After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Alberta College of Art and Design (Jewellery/Metals) in 2006, she returned to Grande Prairie and began working at the Centre for Creative Arts as the Creative Operations Coordinator. Sangra uses a variety of art media and mainly uses watercolor and acrylic paints in her art practice.

Marjorie Taylor graduated from the department of Fine Arts at GPRC in 1984. She became interested in Art History and was introduced to centuries of various art forms from many countries which became an inspiration in her paintings. She uses a variety of mediums in her artwork including acrylic, clay, wood, soapstone, and found objects. Taylor tries to expand boundaries and strives to perfect her techniques along her artistic journey.

Christina Wallwork is a Canadian artist from Peterborough, Ontario. She attended Nipissing University for Culture and Religion in North Bay, Ontario from 2005-2008 before completing her Visual Arts and Design diploma at GPRC. Her artistic process is one of self-discovery and expression. Her subjects focus on wildlife, nature, and spirituality and involve a variety of mediums including pastel, sumi ink, and acrylic paint. Wallwork currently lives in Grande Prairie where she works as a fine artist and a professional framer.

Lena Gilje fell in love with painting while studying Visual Arts and Design at GPRC and graduated in 2008. She earned her diploma from Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, British Columbia and has launched an exciting art career that includes both mixed media and photography. Gilje has travelled and explored art and culture throughout Europe meeting many great people along her journey.

Chris Kinderwater completed a diploma in Visual Arts and Design from GPRC and Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Lethbridge as well as several other courses from the University of Calgary and Alberta College of Art and Design. His work focuses primarily on portrait painting and his goal is to strike a balance between precise detail and vague chaos while simultaneously portraying a recognizable face. Last year at Isabel Campbell Public School’s annual Pink Shirt Day “Guardians” assembly Kinderwater unveiled a painted portrait of the school’s namesake.

“We’re extremely proud of all the work done by the College’s Fine Arts department and we’re excited to showcase the accomplishments of our visual arts alumni with the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie. This is truly an exciting opportunity for the community to see what our students, staff and faculty accomplish,” said Susan Bansgrove, GPRC Vice-President Academics and Research

Come on down and see for yourself.

The exhibition will run January 26 to March 20.


GPRC Fine Arts create ‘Roger Rabid’

GPRC Fine Arts create ‘Roger Rabid’

Halloween is right around the corner, and our GPRC Fine Arts Department is getting into the spirit.

‘Roger Rabid’ – created by GPRC’s Fine Arts department.

Our very talented Fine Arts department spent the last few weeks putting together ‘Roger Rabid’ for the Annual Rotary Club Scarecrow event.

An annual event held by the Grande Prairie Sunrise Rotary Club to raise funds for local and international charitable causes.

“In Fine Arts, we try to instill the importance of being involved in the community into our students,” says Tina Martel, GPRC Fine Arts Instructor. “A project like the scarecrow, which is auctioned off to raise funds for the Rotary Club, not only gives our budding artists the opportunity to work collaboratively but it also emphasizes that we can make a difference and contribute to the community where we live. We are creating good citizens, exploring our creativity and having fun.”

‘Roger Rabid’ will be auctioned off tomorrow, October 20, at the annual scarecrow fundraiser.

Tina and her students had a lot of fun coming up with the concept and designing their scarecrow.

“We wanted to do something that was not a typical scarecrow. A student came up with the idea of making the head a creepy looking rabbit head and we slowly morphed it into a huge Frankenstein’esque monster rabbit. Every step we made to bring this creature to life lead to bigger and better ways to truly translate the idea onto the scarecrow form” says Chalene Warner, GPRC Fine Arts student.

“The amount of work that we put into Rog was so worth it in the end. The feeling of finishing a big project like that, which is going toward such a good cause felt amazing. The guidance, help, and support that we received from the teachers as well was huge! We all learned so much and really took advantage of the one on one lessons we received while creating something this big. I don’t think that a lot of people fully understand how much work goes into making something of this size and detail, I know I didn’t at first, but having the support and help we did made all the difference and it truly helped Roger Rabid to meet his full creepy potential. I can’t express enough how lucky it feels to be apart of the GPRC visual arts program, and to have such caring and hands on professors to help us even in their spare time.”

Assisting in the scarecrow fundraiser is something Tina looks forward to getting her students involved in every year.

“We are happy to assist them in their endeavours every year!” she says.

Thank you to the GPRC Fine Arts students, faculty and staff who helped over the past several weeks to bring ‘Roger Rabid’ to life!

Tina and her class with their creation, ‘Roger Rabid’!