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Mercredi, 8 avril 2015

Bury takes part in Quebec-wide virtual choir

By Rachel GARBER

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They're clogging to piano and violin music. Singing and laughing. Then clapping and cheering as the video camera jubilantly swivels on its tripod.

That was the scene two weeks ago in the Eaton Valley Community Learning Centre, or CLC, at the little English-speaking Pope Memorial School in Bury. They're a group of seven students in Grades 3, 4 and 6, and 10 adult choir members from the French-speaking St-Raphael church in Bury. They have just finished a video-recording of La petite suite québécoise.

The suite is a medley of all-time favourite Quebec "classics," said Marla Williams. "Songs by Gilles Vigneault and Michel Rivard, for example. Pic-bois by Beau Dommage. À la claire fontaine. And more." The music was arranged by Fannie Gaudette. She's the director of the Bishop's University Singers.

Williams is the Quebec coordinator for the non-profit organization, Canadian Parents for French, or CPF. It's a network of volunteers who promote and create occasions for youth in Canada to learn French as a second language.

The scene at Bury is being repeated in 10 other communities across Quebec. Other Townships participants are the CLC in Magog, the Sherbrooke Elementary School, and the Bishop's University Singers. All told, more than 400 voices will form a gigantic virtual choir, all singing La petite suite québécoise, and supported by a group of musicians.

Meet the musicians. Chantal Gosselin is travelling around the province, putting the finishing touches on the choirs and filming each performance. Fannie Gaudette plays piano. Alexandre Cattaneo plays mandolin and pedal steel guitar. Sebastien Hinse, drums. Dominique Massicotte, guitar. Jonathan Moorman, fiddle, and Mathieu Tarlo, double bass. Sound engineer Larry O'Malley is putting together all these sounds to create the large-scale virtual concert. At the end of March, look for it on the CPF website,

Williams said several aims come together in this project. To help English speakers learn French and Quebec music, in a fun way. To help them reach out to their local communities. And to give them a chance to contact each other, because their communities are so scattered. "So through this project, children from the Magdalen Islands will be able to see children from Montreal, and kids from the Gaspé."

In Bury, the key organizer was Kim Fessenden, the CLC coordinator. She was liaison with the CPF. She found Martine Brault of Bury, who volunteered to conduct the children's choir during their practice sessions, twice a week for about six weeks. She recruited the students. "They've been dedicated and committed ever since," she said. "They've come to most every single practice. And they had lots of fun."

And Fessenden contacted Lisette Roy, director of the St-Raphael choir. "And they came, they're wonderful, they're energetic, enthusiastic and lots of fun. We practiced separately most of the time and then together for three practices, plus today. I think it came together really, really well."

Fessenden is riding the surf and looking ahead. "Chantal and I were just talking about future projects, so stay tuned till this fall and we'll see what we can do."

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