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Multiple Performances for GNS Choirs

Ayden Kuo ’26
Choir students across GNS have been busy with multiple performances. 
On Monday, May 15, our Middle and Senior School choirs headed down to Parkwood Place to perform six pieces for the senior living centre. After a smooth performance, they were rewarded with gratitude from the seniors and free ice cream! The best part was that the room was air-conditioned

Two days after, on Wednesday, May 17, the Junior school choir joined the Middle and Senior ensembles in Denford Hall for an “Afternoon of Music'' where the choirs sang a total of nine songs and a rousing rendition of “Africa” by Toto that included all the choirs! 

The Middle School choir sang “Water is Wide,” a traditional folk song with a Scottish origin, “Flying Free” by Lloyd Lardon and “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Disney’s Pinocchio. There were two soloists in the Middle School who performed: Sally Wei ’27 and Alison Scott ’27. 

The Senior School performed “Woodsmoke and Oranges” by Ian Tamblyn, “Blue Moon” by Billie Holiday and “We are One” by Brian Tate. “Woodsmoke and Oranges” was played a cappella, a performance without a piano accompaniment, and included a variety of instruments. The soloists included Georgia McLeod ’25, Zoe Carroll ’25, Maddie Kelly ’23, Evan Papps ’25, Taagen Gaines-Benner ’24 and Sean Dallin ’25. Accompanying instruments included the bongo played by Jason Ye ’23, and the piano was played by Alexis ’24, Averi ’28 and me, Ayden Kuo ’26. 

“‘Woodsmoke and Oranges’ is a great piece by Ian Tamblyn, a Canadian folk singer-songwriter and playwright,” said Ms. Chaval, Choral Director for the Middle and Senior School. “I love that the song describes the beautiful parts around Lake Superior: Pukaskwa National Park, Old Woman Bay, Gargantua Beach. I used to live in Thunder Bay and my husband is from North-Western Ontario. I think it's an unknown and untouched gem of Canada with something magical in the many lakes and trees. I have a fondness and connection to that part of the country. The song also has great foundational skills for singers to learn—singing acapella which can be tricky to stay in tune, working with other instruments like the bongos, ocarina and shaker, while continuing to hold three part harmony.”

“‘Water is Wide’ is originally based on an old Scottish folk song,” she adds. “I've always known this tune and most people recognize it. The version we did was an arrangement I really like by Brian Tate; a well known Canadian composer, arranger and conductor. I especially like the ending of this arrangement when the main phrase is cut off repeatedly by a bar of just piano, "The water is..."; and it is assumed but not sung "wide." It adds an element of anticipation for the audience but also has a graceful quality mixed into the musical phrasing. Brian actually conducts the choir that I am president of: the Vancouver Island Chamber Choir. He also composed the last song the Senior School Choir sang: ‘We Are One’. As you can tell, a lot of the repertoire from this concert is Canadian-based; I think it's important to celebrate our local composers.” 

Sally Wei ’27, the Middle School soloist in “Water is Wide” said, “I have been singing and taking lessons at a young age and have won numerous awards in voice. I stopped taking lessons when I came to Victoria three years ago. I plan to be part of the Senior School choir next year because singing is something that I really enjoy, and Ms Chaval is a very supportive teacher.” 

She shares some advice for those wanting to try out for choir, or for a solo, “If you wanted to try out choir, just show up and Ms Chaval would love to have you there. If you’re going for a solo, just go for it and have fun with it. At the end of the day, you are singing for yourself and expressing your own feelings.” As a final word of advice, “Practice at home! Practice makes progress and that is how you can get better at singing or anything in general.” 

“I have been in choir for three years and have been doing private lessons for five years.” explained Alison Scott ’27, the soloist for “Flying Free” by Lloyd Larson. “I like our community, and that it does not matter what grade you are in, you are always welcome. I think that if you want to have a solo, the best way to try is to just go for it and to remember that no one cares if you mess up; if you try your best you're already on the right path.” Alison also plans on joining the Senior School choir next year. 

“What's important to me is that my students always have fun, feel welcome and can be themselves in the choir,” said Ms. Chaval. “I work hard to foster an environment of inclusivity for anyone who wants to sing—it doesn't matter how much experience you have. Once that is set, the next goal is to help students gain confidence by singing in a group and performing in front of an audience. You have to be vulnerable to get on stage, and doing so with a group of trusted friends, under my direction, is easier than doing it alone. Of course, all of these things are wrapped around learning how to sing, sharing music, and building a community of songs at GNS.” 

These performances marked the end of a very successful year for the Middle and Senior School choirs and they were enjoyed by all those in attendance. If you enjoy singing, music and performing, the Middle and Senior School choirs look forward to meeting you next year!


Glenlyon Norfolk School

Junior School (JK to Grade 5)

Middle (Grade 6 to 8) and Senior (Grade 9 to 12) Schools

We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.