Hearing singing in the hallways gave an elementary school music teacher the idea to start a boys' choir.
After many rehearsals, the first-ever Clifton School boys’ choir gave a silver-medal performance at the Winnipeg Music Festival on March 12 at Westworth United Church (1750 Grosvenor Ave.).
The group of more than 20 boys sang J’entends le Moulin and All the Pretty Little Horses during the festival, which took place from Feb. 28 to March 23. The boys performed on March 12, after having practised the pieces since the fall.
Lori Bodner, a music, dance, and French teacher at Clifton (1070 Clifton St.), said the idea of forming a boys’ choir came from always hearing music in the halls.
"They sing their way through their classes all the time, so I asked them if they were interested in having a boys’ choir," Bodner said.
Once the choir was up and running, Bodner applied for them to perform at the Winnipeg Music Festival in October. They rehearsed for half an hour per school cycle.
After performing, the boys received a certificate of participation and an adjudication sheet which has notes on what they can do to improve as well as on what they did well.
"I’ve never had my French criticized by the Winnipeg Music Festival," Bodner said with a laugh. "(The judges) didn’t like the way I had the boys pronounce one word (in J’entends le Moulin). We did a folk song, and they wanted a Quebecois accent to it."
However, Bodner said they did enjoy All the Pretty Little Horses, which was a lullaby.
"They said we had good tone, and the boys were blending well," Bodner said.
Christopher Marquez and Samuel Preyma, Grade 4 students at Clifton, enjoyed their overall experience at the Winnipeg Music Festival.
"I was kind of nervous, because there were lots of people watching us, and we made some mistakes," Marquez said.
"I liked everything except for when the judge was speaking about our French," Preyma said, adding that from now on he’d prefer to sing English songs.
"There’s nothing wrong with taking a risk," Bodner said to Preyma.
Bodner said some of the challenges of starting a boys’ choir at Clifton included not having the kind of range typically found in a mixed choir, as well as language barriers for some of the students.
"A lot of the community here has English as an alternative language, so one of our songs was French, so that was a third language for them to know," Bodner said. "For lots of these kids, that’s challenging, but I think they did such a fabulous job."
For more information about the Winnipeg Music Festival, visit www.winnipegmusicfestival.org