Thanks to the efforts of Immanuel Christian School, music from across Canada converged at the Centennial Concert Hall on Mon., April 21.
The Transcona school’s band program organized Keystone Harmony, a mass band concert featuring other Christian schools from Edmonton (Parkland Immanuel Christian School), Langley, B.C. (Credo Christian High School), Fergus, Ont. (Emmanuel Christian High School), and Hamilton, Ont. (Guido de Bres Christian High School).
The five bands worked over Easter weekend to tighten up six pieces for the concert, while each school was also able to perform individual selections in front of approximately 900 viewers. Approximately another 550 computers from all over the world logged in to watch an online live stream.
Immanuel music teacher Rob Bonefaas got the idea when he attended a similar event in Edmonton in 2012, his first year as an instructor at the school. He developed the plan of hosting a concert in Winnipeg — initially planning it as a Western Canadian event before rounding out the roster with the two eastern schools.
"They had to do a lot of fundraising in order to make it happen," Bonefaas said of the two private Ontario schools that attended. "By the end of the summer, they pretty much guaranteed that they would join us and be here, so that’s when the whole ball started rolling."
The five music directors discussed via email which pieces they’d be interested in performing together, and worked on those tunes throughout the year. There were some wrinkles that needed to be ironed out once all five bands combined, though.
"(On Friday), we ran through the pieces to see what we needed to work on, so that was a really good way to start the weekend," Bonefaas said.
The 210 musicians split into their respective sessions on Saturday before confidently reconvening that evening. "Everybody has different methods of teaching new music, so those were the kinks in the road," Bonefaas said.
Flautist Carissa Nagtegaal, one of 74 Immanuel musicians in the show, was glad to be able to perform on a stage she’d seen used so many times before.
"I had sat in the audience about a thousand times and watched other people play on that stage, and I got to be on that stage, and it was amazing," the Grade 11 student said.
Nagtegaal added it was rewarding to work quickly with the other students to perfect the performance, becoming friends in the process.
"A lot of conductors had done (songs) differently and at different speeds, so we had to do a lot of adjustments," she said, adding she appreciated the opportunity to participate in sectionals.
French horn player Jamie Kanis said he feels working with others helped his playing as well.
"We taught each other," said the Grade 12 Lorette resident. "For a while, my instrument wasn’t working right and one of them fixed it for me. Then it was perfect."
Bonefaas was thrilled with how the school community reacted, opening their homes to billet all of the visiting musicians.
To check out videos from the concert, visit http://new.livestream.com/redeemerlive/keystone/videos/48723513