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Ignite Learning
Success: O’Neill CVI Hosts Jazz Band and Vocal Festivals

School bands and choirs across southern Ontario perform amongst their peers and work with professional clinicians

On February 21st and 22nd, jazz bands from schools across southern Ontario gathered to share their talents and love of music at O'Neill Collegiate Vocational Institute (CVI) in Oshawa for the Southern Ontario Jazz Band Festival.

Participating Durham District School Board (DDSB) schools included: Henry Street HS, J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate, Dunbarton HS, Seneca Trail PS, O'Neill CVI, Anderson CVI, Brooklin HS, R.S. McLaughlin CVI, Pickering HS, Uxbridge SS, and Donald A. Wilson SS.

On February 25th and 26th, the spotlight shifted to the vocalists, as school choirs of all sizes performed in the Ontario Vocal Festival at O'Neill CVI.

Erin Collins, a teacher at O'Neill CVI, organized the Ontario Vocal Festival. "The philosophy of the festival is to create an atmosphere for learning and sharing. Rankings and competition have been eliminated. We aim to hire professional clinicians (guest musicians who answer student questions, and critique their performances) who will inspire each group and take them to the next level in their music-creating journey," explains Collins.

The following DDSB schools participated in the Ontario Vocal Festival: Maxwell Heights SS, O'Neill CVI, Donald A. Wilson SS, Port Perry HS, Ajax HS, Brooklin HS, Pickering HS, and S.A. Cawker PS.

Notably, two DDSB elementary schools performed at these events. The Soaring Eagles Chorus from S.A. Cawker PS was the only elementary choir to perform at the Ontario Vocal Festival, and Seneca Jazz from Seneca Trail PS was the only elementary band to perform at the Southern Ontario Jazz Band Festival.

Seneca Jazz is comprised of Grade 6 to 8 students and is led by two teachers, Gillian Crosbie and Sara Cain. Crosbie says, "This was an excellent opportunity for my students, many of whom have just begun to explore the style of jazz. I think it's important for students to have the opportunity to perform for fresh audiences, and to have feedback from different voices. It gives them a feeling of accomplishment, and helps to spur them on to continue working and improving."  

At both events, student musicians perform in front of their peers, educators, and respected professionals. The bands and choirs are provided with an educational clinic that includes constructive comments and feedback on their performances.

Lynne Smythe from the Pickering HS Music Department says, "We sang very well and enjoyed our adjudicator's clinic. Leslie Fagan (Head of Voice at Wilfrid Laurier University and professional opera singer) worked well with our students and gave some great feedback."

Next Up - MusicFest

Some jazz bands and choirs even received an invitation to perform at MusicFest Canada.

MusicFest is an annual event that brings together thousands of Canada's musicians to perform on a national stage, with the goal being to cultivate and develop young musicians. It is being held in Ottawa, Ontario from May 13th to 18th.

Although not every band and/or choir will perform at MusicFest, every student that participated in the jazz band and choir festivals gained insightful feedback to improve their musical abilities.

DDSB school jazz bands that are invited to perform at MusicFest include: Prospect Park (Brooklin HS), Intermediate Jazz Ensemble (Pickering HS), Senior Jazz Band (Dunbarton HS), Junior Jazz Band (Dunbarton HS), J. Clarke Richardson Jazz Band, and the R.S. McLaughlin Jazz Ensemble.

DDSB school choirs that are invited to perform at MusicFest include: Belle Voci (Maxwell Heights SS), Harmony Road (Maxwell Heights SS), Songsters (Maxwell Heights SS), Concordia Concert Choir (Pickering HS), O'Neill Treble Voices, O'Neill Concert Choir, O'Neill Men's Choir, O'Neill Chamber Choir, and the Wilson Voices (Donald A. Wilson SS).

Curtis Hunter, Instrumental Music Teacher at R.S. McLaughlin CVI, says of the experience, "Performing at the Southern Ontario Jazz Band Festival was an amazing experience for myself and my students. It's like-minded musicians supporting each other, and realizing that jazz is enjoyed throughout our region."

Congratulations to all DDSB jazz bands and choirs that participated, and good luck to those moving forward at the national level.

Photo 1

Belle Voci is one of three Maxwell Heights SS choirs that are invited to perform on a national stage at MusicFest in Ottawa.

Photo 2

The Anderson CVI Jazz Band performs at the Southern Ontario Jazz Band Festival at O'Neill CVI in Oshawa.

Photo 3

The O'Neill Chamber Choir is one of four O'Neill CVI choirs that are invited to perform at MusicFest in Ottawa.

Photo 4

Seneca Jazz is comprised of Grade 6 to 8 students from Seneca Trail PS in Oshawa.


Durham District School Board
400 Taunton Road East,
Whitby, ON
L1R 2K6 Canada

Phone: 905-666-5500
Fax: 905-666-6474
Toll Free: 1-800-265-3968
TTY 905-666-6943, 877-868-5575
© Durham District School Board, 2013