Pictou County is well represented in this year’s National Youth Choir of Canada.
Of eight young Nova Scotian singers, four hail from the county.
Every two years, singers between the ages of 18 and 25 are auditioned across the country to form the NYC. For Marcel D’Entremont of Merigomish and Adam Skinner of New Glasgow, this is their second time in the prestigious group.
Growing up, Skinner was a member of the Pictou District Honour Choir starting in Grade 1 and took several music elective classes while at school. He’s used to singing under pressure.
“It’s a very busy schedule,” said Skinner, who just completed his undergrad in neuroscience at Dalhousie University. “We’ve all just come together in the last few weeks and it’s been seven hours of rehearsal a day.”
Originally, four singers from Nova Scotia were selected for the NYC, with a further four singers chosen as alternates. Some singers from other provinces were unable to travel to Nova Scotia in this month, which will give all eight the opportunity to perform.
Also performing is soprano Jodie Alcorn and alto Shanice Skinner from New Glasgow.
D’Entremont, like Skinner, grew up singing and playing in the New Glasgow Music Festival.
“I started piano when I was six-years-old and voice lessons in Grade 10,” said d’Entremont. “I jumped head-first into choir and band with the Alcorns at NNEC and voice with Monica Punke.”
d’Entremont graduated from Acadia University with a bachelor of music and is currently pursuing a masters in music at University of Toronto. Despite this being his second year in the choir, there was some uncertainty whether he’d make it at audition time.
“Like my first time auditioning, I had to do it online because I was away during auditions,” he said. “I was at a little bit of a disadvantage because I couldn’t sight read.”
But he was indeed NYC material and got a spot on the choir both years. For both singers, it more than just great music.
“It’s a chance to sing with people you’ve never met before and build great friendships,” said Skinner.
For d’Entremont, who said it’s likely this will be his last year in the choir, getting to know people comes naturally with NYC.
“The group we’re with, it feels like we’ve known each other for years,” he said. “Not coming back will be more bitter than sweet but it’s so unique meeting people from across Canada.”
The National Youth Choir has been touring the Maritimes with seven stops in Digby, Tatamagouche, Wolfville, Summerside, Fredericton, St. Bernard and Lunenburg. The final performance will be taking place at Podium 2014, Canada’s national choral conference, which is taking place in Halifax on May 15 to 18.
Under the direction of renowned conductor Hilary Apfelstadt, director of choral programs at the University of Toronto, the choir will perform Canadian Choralscapes: From Sea to Sea, a concert of all Canadian music, including the newly commissioned Earth Voices, by Nova Scotia composer Peter Togni with text by poet Bliss Carman
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Tuesday, May 13, 7:30 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton, N.B.
Wednesday, May 14 , 7:30 p.m. Trinity United Church, Summerside, P.E.I.
Friday, May 16 , 8:00 p.m. Podium Highlight Concert, St. Mary’s Basilica, Halifax