Local schools participate in Kodály Choral Festival after two-year hiatus
News Thu, Jun 23rd, 2022 Veronica Reiner
By Veronica Reiner Many local schools, including Baden Public School (PS), Forest Glen PS, New Dundee PS, Sir Adam Beck PS, Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School, and Wellesley PS, participated in the Kodály Choral Festival last week. “The attendance at all concerts was wonderful,” said Mark McMath, principal at Preston PS in Cambridge and chair of the event’s organizing committee. “Parents, grandparents, siblings were all able to attend and enjoy the beautiful singing.” This is the first Kodály Choral Festival in two years after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event typically takes place in Centre In The Square in Kitchener and is held over two nights, with up to 25 schools participating and more than 1,000 children. “Given the COVID restrictions were still in place at the beginning of the year, our committee needed to think of some alternatives to Centre In The Square, while still supporting music education in our schools,” said McMath. This year, the committee decided to host “area festivals” spread out over several weeks. There were six different concerts (hosted at different locations) with 16 schools participating, and more than 600 students from Grade 4, 5, and 6 singing. There were also guest soloists that participated from Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School, as well as Eastwood Collegiate and Kitchener-Conestoga Collegiate. “A highlight was the concert at Victoria Park in Kitchener - five schools singing together, and families and friends on the field by the clock tower - a great community feel,” said McMath. “This was the same experience at all concerts. The festival concerts were one of the first large group gatherings since COVID restrictions had been lifted.” All schools had the same selection of songs, which were decided upon by the organizing committee. The songs were selected based on the amount of time choirs would have to learn and memorize songs, musical variety, and “concert” appeal. Songs included O Canada (two verses), The Friendship Song, Donkey Riding (traditional Canadian folk song), Obiswana (a traditional Ghana folksong), I am the Earth by Glyn Lehmann, County on Me by Bruno Mars, and Frim Fram Sauce, a jazz-type song. McMath said the weather cooperated for most of the scheduled days. Two concerts were scheduled for June 6 and June 7, but postponed due to rain and rescheduled for June 12 and June 13. The dates had been planned ahead in the event of needing a rain date. The organizing committee consists of current music teachers in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), as well as retired music teachers and retired administrators from the WRDSB. The committee has started planning for the following year's festival in July. They have tentatively booked Centre In The Square for May 2023, but will first gather feedback from choir directors about this year’s festival to determine what the best course of action would be. A complete list of schools who participated this year includes Baden PS, Brigadoon PS, Coronation PS, Country Hills PS, Forest Glen PS, JF Carmichael PS, Mary Johnston PS, New Dundee PS, Prueter PS, Riverside PS, Sandhills PS, Sir Adam Beck PS, Suddaby PS, Vista Hills PS, Wellesley PS, Eastwood Collegiate (guest soloists), Kitchener-Waterloo CI (guest soloists) and Waterloo-Oxford DSS (two guest choirs).