WSD Seniors Years Choral & Band Celebration ConcertsJanuary 23, 2024
Music filled the air on the evening of Friday, January 12, 2024 for the annual senior years honour band and choir performances. Students from across Winnipeg School Division took part in celebratory concerts showcasing their incredible skills for packed audiences made up of proud families and caregivers, staff, and community members.
The choral celebration has been a January tradition for many years. This division-wide, extra-curricular enrichment choice provides students in Grades 10–12 an opportunity to sing together under the leadership of a guest conductor with the support of some of the division’s finest music educators.
“Students look forward to a shared learning and music-making experience with their friends and peers and new friends they make during the event,” said Kelsey Shiaro, fine arts department head, choir & French teacher from Gordon Bell High School.
Honour band and choral members are selected from among hundreds of students in school music programs across the division. Music teachers collaborate with Winnipeg School Division in the selection process.
Once students are selected, they are given the music before winter break and are expected to have their individual parts learned when they arrive for practice. They are only together for two days of rehearsal before the big event.
Alexis Silver, who is the band director at École Secondaire Sisler High School, fondly remembers her own experience in honour bands that helped shape who she is today.
“In speaking with some colleagues, we remember being in honour bands when we were in school. These events were so meaningful because we met “our people”, friends who knew what it was like to love music. Together, we pushed ourselves towards excellence,” said Silver.
Hans Maningas, a Grade 12 student from St. John’s High School, shared how important it was to him to be part of the event with peers from not only his school, but across the division.
“To me, it’s important because music gives us a sense of community, especially being in a band,” said Hans. “I enjoy playing piano and guitar too, as well as the flute—music will always be a big part of my life.”
The experience of being chosen to play for the Senior WSD Honour Band for the flute section Sisler High School Student Arabian Liwanag. She wrote to organizers afterward:
"It came with many struggles like practicing fast moving repertoire, driving in harsh weather and road conditions, balancing practicing the repertoire and exam season, and having only three rehearsal days to prepare for a concert the same day as our last rehearsal. Although I had many struggles during the time of the Senior WSD Honour Band, it came with so many more upsides like making new friends, talking and reconnecting with friends from other schools, and using our music to make the audience feel what we feel, which is empathy, to then hopefully produce more compassion in our world through music which Mr. Kristjanson, our conductor, said. His words of how music is a way for the audience, our community, to feel how we feel and to then feel and build compassion upon that empathy really stood out to me. I already understood that music was a way to connect to each other through the feel of the music, however when he said something along the lines of how compassion through music will hopefully end pain in this world, it just stuck out to me that we musicians do have an impact on our community, our city, our country, and our world, all through notes, rhythms, and each other. Additionally, as a senior in high school being in the Senior WSD Honour Band for two years now and being in band ever since middle school, my love for music and playing my instrument has greatly increased, and this experience being in Honour Band and with Mr. Kristjanson has just boosted my love and appreciation for music so much more. The Senior WSD Honour Band was truly an honour to be in and to learn so much from Mr. Kristjanson was truly amazing and very informative. Being able to play our four pieces for our community with him as our conductor was an amazing experience, and I hope that this program keeps running for our future generations to spread that empathy and compassion through their love of music. "
Well done WSD students and a huge thanks to guest conductors Philip Lapatha and Bill Kristjanson!