News Archives: GPRC Sends Four Singers To Alberta Youth Choir
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
GPRC Fine Arts students Alyssa Thompson, Max Barrs, Cameron Irwin and Brianna Strickland were selected to be part of this year's Alberta Youth Choir
Four Grande Prairie Regional College singers are adding their voices to the Alberta Youth Choir this weekend.
Brianna Strickland, Alyssa Thompson, Max Barrs, and Cameron Irwin (profiles below) perform Friday in Calgary with the Choir alongside the Alberta Wind Symphony in the Music Conference Alberta Gala Concert at 8 p.m. in Mount Royal University’s Bella Concert Hall.
The concert is part of a residency that includes two other weekend performances – in Strathmore and Rosebud.
Three other singers from Grande Prairie were also invited to join the Choir. Conductors and teachers from across Alberta are encouraged to recommend their strongest singers for an audition.
GPRC Voice Music Instructor Tina Alexander-Luna is thrilled for the students.
“It is so exciting to see these young and talented singers getting accepted into programs like the Alberta Youth Choir,” she says.
“I was in the Provincial and National youth choirs myself as a young singer, and these experiences are what really solidified my choice to continue to pursue music. AYC also allows our singers from GPRC to meet peers from colleges and universities across the province.”
She says this is the largest contingent ever in one year from GPRC and the strong showing overall of high-calibre singers from Grande Prairie is a feather in the community’s cap.
The Alberta Youth Choir is the province's honour choir for singers ages 16-22. It provides a unique opportunity for outstanding young singers from across Alberta to join forces in the pursuit of excellence in choral music under the direction of a renowned conductor.
The 2019 Alberta Youth Choir is composed of 78 outstanding choristers from 39 different choirs and 18 towns and cities, including Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Grande Prairie. The choir will be conducted by Dr. Sandra Snow, Professor of Choral Conducting and Music Education at Michigan State University.
Choristers participated in a two-day rehearsal weekend in Edmonton earlier this month.
Brianna, a soprano, is in her second year with the GPRC Choir.
“Personally, it is quite an achievement to be able to represent Grande Prairie and myself at the provincial level, she says. “To be chosen to be part of the provincial choir – you have to audition – is especially gratifying since you are experiencing music along with people from across the province.”
It’s not the first time her voice has had provincial exposure.
She and Alyssa Thompson, who is joining her with the Alberta Youth Choir, were members of the Grande Prairie Public School District Treble Choir, which won first place at the provincial level earlier this year.
Brianna is pursuing a career teaching music and potentially composing.
“I want to keep music in my life somehow,” she says. “I’m a real fan of choral music so I hope to teach it one day.”
Brianna is in the Bachelor of Music and Education Program and is off to the University of Alberta next year to attain her high school teaching qualifications. Carrying on with the choir there is her goal.
She’s also learning the piano as her minor.
Alyssa made her debut with the GPRC Choir this fall as a first year student. She’s taking a Bachelor of Music and Education and minoring in drama.
She’s proud of her invitation to the Alberta Youth Choir.
“It’s a really great achievement. Besides winning the Treble Choir Provincials, I have never done any music on such a big scale. I am really excited to be part of something like that.”
After six years of choir and performing in school musicals, starting in Grade 8, Alyssa has her sights set on being a choir teacher.
Alyssa is an alto who also sang tenor last year. She and Brianna are both fans of Oja Gjeilo, a composer and pianist, and Eric Whitacre, a composer, conductor and speaker.
Max is a second-year student at GPRC who began with the choir this fall.
He, who sings bass, performed the previous nine years with the Grande Prairie Boys Choir. He’s taking Music Performance at GPRC and is considering transferring to Music Technology with the goal of working in a music studio.
He was also in a concert band during high school as a percussionist. He also plays guitar.
Having travelled with the Boys Choir, including to Ireland, Max is no stranger to taking his voice on the road. He’s excited with this latest opportunity to perform in a prestigious setting.
“It’s awesome, quite an honour. There are nearly 80 people in the Youth Choir so to be chosen from that many singers is pretty amazing.”
This is Cameron’s first year with the GPRC Concert Choir and second time performing with the Alberta Youth Choir. He was with the Grande Prairie Boys Choir for nine years.
Being part of the Choir rates high on Cameron’s list of achievements.
“The one thing that would be above this would be getting to sing with Pro Coro Canada at McDougall United Church in Edmonton, singing with professionals who have been doing this for years on end was just great.”
The event also featured Chor Leoni Men's Choir from Vancouver, as well as other men's choirs from around Alberta. It was focused on Men Making Music.
Cameron, a tenor, cites Luciano Pavarotti and Tatsurō Yamashita as music heroes.
He plans to continue performing and possibly compose his own music after graduating. He is studying music performance, majoring in voice. He’s also learned how to play the drums and piano.
“Performing is my favourite aspect of music at the moment,” he says.
Prior to joining the Boys Choir, Cameron took voice lessons in the Fine Arts Department at GPRC.