Pictured: the Avon Public School Music Ensemble with their Bottomley Trophy (for the school with the highest average marks) after the Stratford Kiwanis competition in April 2018. From left to right: Anna Stephens, Sam Pepper, Liam Benton, Jersey Jantzi, Jasmine Powell, Heidi Thomas, Nolan Ropp, Nolan Trainor, Nathaniel Smith, Ellie Spillane, Estella Kouwenberg, Jocelyn Williams, Emma Garland, Jack Wagler, Josh Whittaker, Natalie Polanco, Sophie Thomas. Absent: Maya Ekiert.
Stratford Elementary School Choirs Place Top Three at Provincial and National Competitions
This spring’s Stratford Kiwanis Music Festival launched three groups of students aged 12 and under from two elementary schools in our district to provincial and national competitions this summer: a junior choir from Hamlet Public School, a boychoir from Avon Public School, and an ensemble also from Avon.
For the four months leading up to the Kiwanis Festival, these dedicated young vocalists, directed by long-time Avon music teacher Mark McIntosh, came early to school to rehearse for 30 minutes each morning. Avon’s elite ensemble choir, made up of 18 children, were in a division that required them to compete at the Festival without a conductor, performing two- and three-part harmony without accompaniment or direction.
Their hard work paid off, and all three groups were selected by adjudicator Dr. Gerard Yun to move on to the provincial competition. At the provincial and national levels, these choirs qualified to compete in Class 108: the Florine Després Plaque and Award, a school choir category which stipulates that singers must be 12 and under and they must perform at least one selection in two or more parts.
Provincial competition is steep: the best choirs from Ontario’s approximately 3975 elementary schools compete at 57 music festivals across the province. Each festival may have multiple qualifying groups in the same category, as was the case for our schools.
Competing at the provincial and national levels means sending a one-take recording, witnessed by the head of the local Kiwanis, to the judges. This method allows choirs from the far reaches of the province and nation to participate easily and affordably, and levels the playing field.
The provincial judges were duly impressed by our three choirs, and they took the top three spots: Avon’s boy choir came in third, the Hamlet junior choir placed second, and the Avon Public School Music Ensemble, pictured above, placed first in their division!
“I was amazed to see that at provincials, my ensemble came in first but also Hamlet came in second and my boychoir came in third. That means that in this category the two Stratford schools held the top three spots for the province. I don’t think that has ever happened before.” — Conductor and music teacher Mark McIntosh
As Ontario’s top Florine Després choir, the ensemble from Avon entered the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals national competition, which was held in August. There, among Canada’s best, they placed third.
Since 2015, Avon has placed either first or second in their division at the provincial level, and also placed second nationally in 2015.
Congratulations to all of these accomplished students! Well done – we are very proud of your great achievement!
If you’d like to see some of these talented young singers in action, plan to attend the following events:
- Avon Public School musical production of Madagascar, December 11 to 14, 2018
- Stratford Kiwanis Festival of the Performing Arts – Stars of the Festival, Avondale United Church, Stratford, May 6, 2019 (tentative date)