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Close to 500 students + 40 music specialists = one amazing evening of music

November 6, 2019

On Wednesday, October 23, the voices of hundreds of students from across the Louis Riel School Division joined together in harmony on the Centennial Concert Hall stage for the annual Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) in Harmony with United Way–Choral Celebration 2019. 

 "It was amazing to see these students come together in such a short time and create a very special community. They received their music selections Monday evening and after an intensive rehearsal process, they presented an exceptional concert on Wednesday. It is wonderful to see how they worked together toward a common goal," said Ingrid Pedersen, LRSD Arts Education Coordinator, who helped organize the event. "All of the music teachers deserve a standing ovation as they went above and beyond to ensure this event was a success."

The 90-minute evening of music featured selections from many recognizable songs such as Better Together from Descendants: Wicked World, a popular animated television show, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight, a smash hit by Elton John for the movie The Lion King. Sharad Srivastava, principal of École Henri-Bergeron and Irene Nordheim, LRSD Assistant Superintendent shared duties as Master of Ceremonies while Sandy Nemeth, Louis Riel School Board Chair, brought greetings. During her address, Nemeth thanked music educators for their commitment and contributions, but she also wanted to recognize other people in attendance.

"I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge all of you in the audience who support the young people in your lives by listening to them, driving them to rehearsals and practices, and being here to cheer them on as they do what they love. Let's never forget that while academics and athletics are important, music education is too," said Nemeth. "While there may be mountains of evidence that highlight the benefits of music, it is the teachers, parents and students themselves who continually remind your school board how important making music is to overall learning and the skills it helps our learners develop."

During the two days prior to the event, students gathered for rehearsals in Junior (Grade 5 and 6), Intermediate (Grades 6 to 8), and Senior (Grades 9 to 12) groups. Three guest conductors from other school divisions were brought in to work with the students. Debra Yacheson from Pembina Trails School Division conducted the Junior Choir, Sarah Sommer from Winnipeg School Division conducted the Intermediate Choir, and Justin Odwak from St. James School Division and the Winnipeg School Division led the Senior students. All of the conductors are highly regarded by their peers and having them as part of the event gave LRSD students an incredible opportunity to learn a great deal. 

"As the beautiful voices of the students filled the concert hall in harmony, I couldn't help but think about all of the people behind the scenes who worked tirelessly to create this evening that celebrated the talents of LRSD learners and the power of music," said Christian Michalik, LRSD Superintendent, who was in attendance. "Achieving a polished and professional production as this is the direct result of staff, students and the community working together to help each person reach their full potential."

While everyone in the audience was treated to the gift of music, the evening was also about supporting the efforts of the United Way and its programming as all money raised through tickets sales was donated to the Winnipeg charity. ­

"Last year, LRSD staff contributed $53,534 to the United Way Winnipeg Community Fund that supports agencies, programs and services in LRSD such as the Boys & Girls Club in Victor Mager School, the Centre Renaissance Center and the Woodydell Family Resource Centre," said Michalik. "I would encourage everyone to consider supporting the United Way's annual campaign as 100 per cent of the funds go towards helping our community and people throughout Manitoba."
 
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