A me­mo­rial trip for choir

Singers from Cres­cent Col­le­giate ex­pe­ri­enced trip-of-a-life­time to Ot­tawa this sum­mer

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Tak­ing a group of 25 teenage girls to Ot­tawa would be dif­fi­cult for some teach­ers. But Robert Col­bourne, mu­sic teacher at Cres­cent Col­le­giate in Blake­town, was up for the chal­lenge.

Col­bourne not only teaches the mu­sic classes at the Grade 7- 12 school, but also con­ducts the choirs. More specif­i­cally, he con­ducted the 25-mem­ber girls’ choir that at­tended the Unisong Choral Fes­ti­val 2013 in our na­tion’s cap­i­tal June 28 to July 1.

Cres­cent was the only New­found­land choir in at­ten­dance at this year’s event, which in­cluded five days of “ed­u­ca­tional” ex­pe­ri­ences and non- stop learn­ing, ac­cord­ing to Col­bourne.

“The hard work our choir put into the week was cap­tured in seven per­for­mances and 25 hours of re­hearsal in four days, which re­sulted in 25 very t i re d g i rl s ,” he ex­claimed.

All choirs par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­ti­val per­formed in their own events un­til Canada Day, when some 500 singers — in­clud­ing the Cres­cent group — teamed up to per­form a free con­cert of Cana­dian mu­sic at the National Arts Cen­tre Theatre.

Beau­mont Hamel re­mem­bered

Col­bourne said the most “spec­tac­u­lar” part of their visit was per­form­ing a t t he National War Me­mo­rial on the an­niver­sary of Beau­mont Hamel, which was not part of the fes­ti­val.

Ev­ery year New­found­lan­ders com­mem­o­rate the 1st Bat­tal­ion of the New­found­land Reg­i­ment in the Bat­tle of the Somme at Beau­mont Hamel in France. The Blue Put­tees, as they were known, were dec­i­mated by fierce Ger­man re­sis­tance, with less than 70 soldiers an­swer­ing roll call the next day.

The choir per­formed the song, “Blue Put­tees,” a song de­pict­ing the re­sult of the hor­ren­dous bat­tle.

“There was hardly a dry eye in the (house),” Col­bourne said, not­ing most in at­ten­dance were New­found­lan­ders.

They a l so per formed with At­lantic Voices adult choir — a choir that bases their per­for­manc- es off New­found­land, Mar­itime, and Celtic songs and mu­sic — to sing the Ode to New­found­land and O Canada.

He ex­plains that it was an im­por­tant part of the trip and was some­thing the girls will re­mem­ber for a long time.

A hefty ex­pense

Col­bourne said the trip for the 25 girls and three chap­er­ons — Col­bourne, Lori Bishop and school prin­ci­pal Michelle Chislett Lahey — cost some $50,000.

The group put a strong ef­fort into their fundrais­ing with re­cy­cling, din­ner sales, an auc­tion, pri­vate do­na­tions and parental con­tri­bu­tions.

“The girls re­ceived two 26-foot long U-Haul trucks of re­cy­clables from Bull Arm con­struc­tion site worth around $4,000,” Col­bourne ex­plained, thank­ing the work­ers for their do­na­tion. “The choir had to go through it and sort it them­selves.”

They also re­ceived cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship from Vale and a youth or­ga­ni­za­tion grant worth $4,000 from the provin­cial govern­ment.

“The en­tire com­mu­nity was be­hind this pro­ject from the get-go to see Cres­cent Col­le­giate rep­re­sent New­found­land and Labrador on the national stage,” Col­bourne said.

He also be­lieves the girls have made ever­last­ing friend­ships.

“This was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, not a va­ca­tion,” Col­bourne noted. “It was very ed­u­ca­tional.”

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