The Winnipeg Boy's Choir is an auditioned group dedicated to quality music making and vocal training in a convivial atmosphere.
How old are the singers?
The choir is open to boys and young men with both changed and unchanged voices, aged from 8 up to 18.
How are the singers chosen?
Singers are chosen through auditions, normally held in June and late summer, and sometimes in early January. Boys are asked to sing a song of their choice (O Canada, a song learned at school, a folk song, Happy Birthday. . .) for the directors. This is followed by some vocal exercises and ear tests, such as repeating clapped rhythms, matching pitches and repeating short sung melodies. Parents are welcome to stay in the room for the audition. Boys are chosen based on their voice quality, listening skills, love of singing, and demonstrated ability to focus, follow direction, and work with others as shown in the audition.
The annual tuition fee is $500. This may be paid in full at the end of September, or by two post-dated cheques, in two payments at the ends of September and January, or eight monthly installments of $62.50. Fees cover the bulk of our expenses, which include the rental of rehearsal space, directors’ and accompanist’s fees, music purchase, uniforms, and camp. Fundraising and ticket sales help cover other expenses, and grants are occasionally sought. Fee reduction bursaries are available for those with financial need. If your son wants to sing but the fee is too high for your family, please complete a a bursary application form online, or downloadone here. and submit it with your registration form.
The choir rehearses on Tuesday evenings from early September to late April, with breaks roughly corresponding to school breaks. Dress rehearsals are held before every concert and extra rehearsals may be called when the choir is involved in a guest performance. Each January, usually the last weekend in the month, there is an overnight camp (the cost of which is included in the tuition fee).
Where are rehearsals held?
Rehearsals are held in the Osborne Village area.
How often does the choir perform?
The choir’s own concerts are typically held in December and April. Most years they sing in ChoralFest in November and the Winnipeg Music Festival in February. In addition, they are often asked to perform with other amateur and professional ensembles in Winnipeg, and make the occasional foray out of town for concerts in other communities.
My son loves to sing but he doesn’t want to give up hockey. Will he be able to do both?
Many of our singers play hockey or instruments or are involved in various other activities—they’re a busy bunch. Being in the choir is a major commitment; it is not a drop–in activity. Our singers and directors work hard to achieve a fine balance and tone quality that depends on everyone being there all the time. Singers might miss the occasional rehearsal for a game, but they should make a serious commitment to the choir, and work for a balance—sometimes they will miss hockey for choir. Participation at dress rehearsals and performances is mandatory.
What about practice at home?
Singers will from time to time receive a recording of the term’s music, to which they will be required to listen and sing along. Sometimes they will be specifically asked to work on a particular section or piece. Singers are always encouraged to do some work at home. Normally, ten or fifteen minutes, a few times a week, would be ample home practice.
What about music?
The choir’s repertoire includes music from a wide variety of genres, including classical, folk, musical theatre, and contemporary choral music, both sacred and secular, in many languages. All music is sung from memory, but singers will receive sheet music each term. They are responsible for taking care of this and returning it when asked. There is a $100 music/uniform deposit, from which costs will be deducted at the end of the year if anything is missing or damaged beyond reasonable wear. We recommend that you establish a consistent place at home where music is kept.
What about uniforms?
Uniforms are largely provided by the choir, though singers are asked to provide their own white dress shirt, black socks and shoes, and, some years, a black dress shirt. We have a small collection of shirts and black shoes available to borrow. Uniforms must be dry cleaned and returned at the end of the season.
What is expected from parents?
Choir parents’ foremost job is to support their sons’ singing by making sure they arrive at rehearsals on time and ready to sing, and helping them with any work needing to be done at home. In addition, all parents are members of the Parents’ Association, which meets once or twice a year to share information and gather volunteers to help with a variety of tasks. The Executive Board is also generally composed of choir parents, who organize fundraising activities, deal with financial issues and generally help the choir to run smoothly. The Board cannot do this alone; every family is asked to step up and help where needed, where it is setting up risers for concerts, supervising singers backstage at the concert hall, baking cookies for a concert reception or other occasion, or organizing a social event. Fundraising requires the active participation of all families, and with concerts come ticket sales and the putting up of posters.
Is it fun?
Yes, it's fun! Singers are expected to focus and work hard during rehearsal; for music-lovers, that hard work, and the resulting accomplishment of really good ensemble singing is a joy in itself. But the year also includes some social time, and at the appropriate moments, our singers let their hair down and just make noise. Winter camp provides an excellent opportunity to combine work and pleasure, and we try to include some other social events as well (this is partially dependent on having parents willing to help organize and supervise).
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