Choral Program Overview
The choral program offers a variety of ensembles that focus on the development of singing skills and musicianship through the exploration of quality and diverse repertoire. Each ensemble participates in local, national and international festivals, which in the past have included the Calgary Performing Arts Festival, Alberta Choralfest, Banff Rocky Mountain Festival and the Whistler Con Brio Music Festival. Touring extensively, Central’s choirs have recently visited locations such as England, Scotland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. All choral ensembles are full-year, five-credit courses.
All choral students perform in the Concert Choir, which rehearses twice a week. In this choir, students develop their aural skills through the study and performance of music from several time periods and styles. This choir is designed to challenge and broaden students’ understanding of choral repertoire and techniques involved in performance of music in various styles, such as: classical, spiritual and art/folk music. This ensemble is open to all students grades 10-12 who wish to be part of a musical ensemble, regardless of prior experience. Expert instruction and a strong sense of community will help all prospective singers become confident members of the Concert Choir by our first performance.
The Concert Choir performs at major musical events throughout the year. This ensemble has consistently received top ratings in local, national and international music festivals.
PVA Chamber Choir
The Chamber Choir is comprised of students who have successfully auditioned into the Performing and Visual Arts Program and want an in-depth musical experience. This group of students meets daily inside the timetable, and performs quality repertoire of various styles and time periods. Chamber Choir students also take the PVA musicianship course, where further access to artists, in depth music study, and rigorous training create an extraordinary ensemble. This choir performs often throughout the year both within the school and the community, with the expectation for national and international travel.
All PVA students are enrolled in one of two courses; Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement). These programs of study allow PVA students to explore how they see themselves as artists and become more aware of the process involved in preparing for the marketing and business aspect of being a professional in the arts community.
Students will experience a variety of teacher-led assignments/activities as well as a number of student-directed online projects.
Audition/Interview Requirements for Choral
To audition for PVA Choral, students must have previously submitted all components of the PVA Application Form
This is an opportunity for our music team to hear where the student is in their musical journey, get a sense of their coachability (are they willing to take risks, open to feedback, etc.), and assess which ensemble would provide the student with the most opportunity for success.
More importantly, this is an opportunity for the student to share their gifts and passion with us in a friendly, safe, and encouraging environment.
Piano, guitar, bagpipes, etc.: while we would love to accommodate all instruments, it is not possible within our program. If you are interested in PVA Music, we would be happy to discuss options in order for students to participate.
- Prepared Solos: students will demonstrate their ability to prepare and perform a piece of music that showcases their gifts and passions.
Please prepare a piece of music (30 seconds to 1 minute, if your solo is longer choose a short section of it) that demonstrates your range and ability. It should be in the classical or musical theatre genre. An accompanist will be provided so please bring music for the accompanist (on paper, not a phone). If you are unsure of what to sing, “O Canada” is fine.
Suggested pieces (*accompanist will have the music already):
The Water Is Wide
O Danny Boy
An Italian aria
*On My Own (Les Miserables) – Altos
*‘Till There Was You (Music Man) – Sopranos
*Corner of the Sky (Pippin) – Tenors
*Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)– Basses
Following that piece, if there is a genre of music that you are more comfortable with (pop, country, folk) or passionate about, we would love to hear it. A karaoke track will be fine for that.
- Technique: students will demonstrate their understanding of musical skills and concepts.
Scales: You will be asked to sing a variety of vocal exercises on a neutral vowel, led by the director.
Sight-reading: Read a simple 8 bar melody from sightreadingfactory.com You can use solfege or sing on doo.
Ear Training: pitch retention (a melody will be played for you to sing back as best you can).
- Interview (parents/guardians included):
This is an opportunity for us to learn more about the student and family. We will ask you questions about why the student is passionate about music, what their goals are, and why they want to be a part of the PVA program, as well as who they are as a person. We will provide information about student and parent involvement in PVA and some of the expectations associated with participation in the program. We will also answer any questions you might have.
Band and Choir
Adam creates great leaders through music. He helps students of all ages around Alberta as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician to understand how they best can contribute to their ensemble. He performs regularly as percussionist with Primetime Big Band, and Alberta Winds, and as Music Director of Cochrane Music Society’s Adult Concert and Jazz Bands. Adam holds a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary, and a Master’s of Curriculum design in Music Education from Acadia University.
Nicole has been a passionate music educator in Calgary and area specializing in choral and instrumental music. Ms Hounjet also conducts with the Westwinds Music Society – an adult music education program – where she has lead the Women’s Choir and Tour Choir. Ms Hounjet is currently the Vice President of Programs and Projects for Choir Alberta, where she is committed to helping facilitate vibrant and enriching programs for singers, conductors, and educators at every age and stage. An accomplished musician (voice,piano,and saxophone), Ms Hounjet completed her music degree at the University of Alberta where she was mentored by Dr. Debra Cairns and Dr. Ardelle Ries. She earned her education degree at the University of Calgary.
Ms Hounjet has continued to develop herself as a musician and artist by studying with choral leaders including James Jordan, James Whitbourn, Gregory Boers, Richard Nace, and Rodney Eichenberger. She is heavily involved in the facilitation of the Alberta Youth Choir and Music Conference Alberta, and is a frequent guest clinician/conductor. As an educator and conductor, Ms Hounjet believes in empowering her students to fully engage in the music by building a community of mutual trust, respect and empathy within their ensemble. She is thrilled be part of the PVA team.
Band, Choir and Strings
Katrina believes firmly in the power of musical study to positively transform individuals, communities, and society. She works to empower students by building safe communities where students are able to engage fully in their art. At Central Memorial, Ms. Archer directs the String Orchestra program, co-conducts the Symphonic Band, and teaches advanced instrumental and choral musicianship classes. As a musician, Ms. Archer played as a sectional cellist with the Symphony of the Kootenays, as well as currently performing with several local bands and ensembles in Calgary. She serves on the boards for the Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education, and Calgary’s Land’s End Ensemble. Ms. Archer has been involved in the international El Sistema movement, which exposes at-risk youth to intense musical study on an instrument as a means to create positive social change within a community. To that end, she has been a part of instructing Philadelphia’s “Play On Philly” program, as well as Calgary’s Multicultural Youth Orchestra. Katrina Archer grew up in Calgary as part of a musical family. As a child, she studied voice with renowned voice teacher and Canadian composer Roberta Stephen, and enjoyed dancing at her dad’s big band concerts and listening to her mom teach piano. Katrina went on to study saxophone and cello at the University of Calgary with saxophonist Jeremy Brown, and cellists Olena Kilchyk and Beth Root-Sandvoss. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education specializing in Secondary Education from U of C, and a Bachelor of Education from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Q: Are PVA music students required to take private lessons?
It is strongly recommended that PVA music students study privately with a professional instructor. This experience will facilitate strong foundational skills necessary in developing independence and confidence.
Q: What time commitment is required to be a PVA music student?
Music students typically attend 1 – 3 morning or after school rehearsals per week. In addition, Jazz Ensembles and Vocal Jazz meet either before or after school two or three times per week and those programs are by audition only. Music students perform at several concerts and events and tour each year. Tours take place in the province, within Canada, or internationally.
Q: When do PVA music students take Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Art?
All PVA students who choose to enroll in Musicianship will be expected to participate in Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Art (Junior Achievement). These self-directed courses provide a combination of teacher-directed assignments/activities combined with student-directed and/or on-line projects. Students will interview professional musicians, attend workshops and performances, develop a list of performance repertoire, study privately, develop a personal portfolio, and complete a final exit interview. These courses are not scheduled into the timetable, but updates and teacher led content will occur during musicianship classes and at designated times.
Q: Are all choral students considered PVA students?
No. Only those students who have successfully auditioned for the PVA Choral program are considered to be part of the PVA Program.
Q: Are choir students allowed to audition for PVA musicals?
Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, PVA choral students will be allowed to audition for PVA musicals.
Q: Are there opportunities for PVA choral students to perform solos?
Solos within choir pieces are selected through in-class auditions. In addition to these opportunities, all PVA students perform in a solo recital each spring.
Links for music students
PVA Choral Alumni
Many graduates of the PVA Choral Program have gone on to post-secondary music programs or are currently pursuing professional careers. Alumni include:
- Allyson Beaven (Voice)
- Laura Wilson (Vocal Jazz)
- Alida Doornberg (Voice)
Humber College – Toronto
- Meg Contini (Vocal Jazz)
- Shannon MacNaughton (Vocal Jazz)
Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA
- Meghan Bell (Voice)
Mount Royal University
- Carley Ann Mitchell (Voice)
- Jenna Yorke-Slader (Voice)
Vancouver Island Community College
- Annie LeBaron (Vocal Jazz)
“Both of our daughters always loved to sing, but had very little musical training.
They began the three year program with undeveloped voices and no real idea of their potential. Mrs. Gardner literally transformed them and opened horizons they had never dreamed of. They became confident soloists, and sang in local and international competitions and events, and traveled with the choirs to Scotland, England, Germany, Prague, Vancouver and Idaho. They were given leadership roles that helped their confidence to blossom. In addition to gaining discipline around the use of their voices, they received extensive training in theory: reading music, ear training, and studying different eras of music. They learned the importance of respecting and contributing positively and formed a core group of friends that stays with them to this day. The benefits of this program are profound – one found her career path, and both discovered talents they would never have explored without the intense experience that was offered. We are so grateful that they were able to be part of this unique program.”
“The PVA choir program allowed me to learn about so may aspects of music and helped bridge my way into a musical college. There is no way I would have gotten to where I am today without the knowledge I received from PVA choir. I miss the support of my teachers and peers and how every person’s differences were considered unique and were cherished. It was such a great place to grow as a musician!!!”
I have been involved with music most of my life and have taken many Canadians on tours, but never heard the quality that came out of your program at Tewkesbury Abbey. You are the standard to beat for the Canadian High Schools. Hats off to all of you.”
“The PVA Program has allowed our daughter the opportunity to pursue her love of music through the choral program.
She is thrilled to be able to do this during her school day along with like-minded students. This means she is also exposed to many other art forms such as dance, drama, theatre, instrumental music and art. The success of the PVA Program lies in the dedication of the very professional and knowledgeable instructors. The time, effort and focus they bring to each and every program means that students are able to study their area of choice at a deeper level, learning both the artistic and technical aspects. Being able to travel and perform throughout the year further enhances their education. As parents, we are most grateful for a program which focuses on our daughter’s love of music and allows her to progress and enjoy every day. We often think back to our daughter’s first day in the PVA Program : “Guess what? I get to sing for homework!!”
“My daughter entered the vocal program at Central with many years of choral experience but no solo experience and minimal private instruction.
She was able to turn to Anne Gardner and the other members of the vocal program not only for school music program support and guidance, but also for private vocal coach instructors and summer camps. As a result of this support and the superior music education she received at Central Memorial, she received early admittance into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston along with a $10,000 annual scholarship. We will always be indebted to Anne and the program at Central.”