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Singing to change the world

Singers from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows gear up for choral festival
Michaela Durovic

“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. A song of peace that echoes on, and never goes away.”

For 15-year-old Michaela Durovic, the words of that famous Coke jingle hold true.

Song has the ability to transform, to bringing people together, to change moods.

The Maple Ridge secondary student, who sings with the Coastal Sound Youth Choir, has seen it first hand at competitions that draw participants from all corners of the big, wide world.

Everybody can relate to each other, explains Durovic, even people who don’t really speak English.

“We can come together and make friends just because we can all sing,” says Durovic, who will be taking part in the Coastal Sound International Choral Festival next month.

The festival evolved from a gathering of children at the World Choral Symposium 2001, held in Vancouver.

Coastal Sound artistic director Donna Otto decided to host a similar event in Vancouver every two years.

This year, the festival with a theme  “Songs of the World” will take place at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby and feature eight choirs with approximately 350 singers.

“We believe that when songs are sung from the heart, transformation, and in some situations, even transfiguration, can occur in many ways,” says Coastal Sound secretary David Spence, explaining that change could mean peace between nations, economic vitality and ecological sustainability.

“The world can be changed one song at a time; and when the festival choristers sing together, many new ways for life can be achieved.”

Two world renowned choral instructors – Rollo Dilworth and Henry Leck – will lead rehearsals, workshops, and performances during the six day event, while 12 other music educators and ethnomusicologists will deliver daily clinics and seminars to the singers.

Each of the eight choirs – six from the U.S. and two from Canada – has an opportunity to sing their own national and cultural choral repertoire in daily concerts.

All eight choirs will perform 14 songs en mass during the closing gala.

Carrie Tennant, who directs the Coastal Sound Youth Choir, has chosen some of the ensembles favourite pieces to perform at their solo concert including Canadian folk music, a German piece from the Romantic era, an arrangement of a song written by Swedish jazz pianist Lars Jansson and even a Dolly Parton song.

The choir features 65 chorists, 30 from Maple Ridge.

“We also have a special surprise planned for the audience that includes some music from Sesame Street, some vampire capes and the Macarena,” says Tennant, careful not to reveal exact details of their July 8 performance.

The Coastal Sound Youth Choir and children choir begin the festival on a high note. Both won their classes at the Performing Arts B.C. Festival this month and now advanced to the national festival.

The youth choir was also awarded the Phyllis Schuldt Award for the most outstanding performance in the choral classes at the provincial festival for Jozef Rheinberger’s Abendlied. They’ve also been selected as a finalist for the 2011 National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs.

Tennant said the youth choir singers in this choir are like a family and that could be why they’ve been sweeping competitions.

“They really care about each other, and they are truly passionate about the music they are making,” she added.

“I think that this sort of vulnerability and openness is rare in our day and age, and that’s why the Coastal Sound performances touch people so deeply.”

Coastal Sounds Women’s Choir also won their category at the provincials.


Hear the choirs

The Coastal Sound Youth Choir hosts Summer Song, a performance at the Maple Ridge Alliance Church on Wednesday, June 29 at 7 p.m.

The church is located at 20399 Dewdney Trunk Road.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors and $5 for children under 12.

To reserve, call 604-469-5973.


Songs of the World 2011

The festival will feature San Francisco Boys Chorus, Summit Touring Choir from Ohio, Northland Youth Choir from Alaska, Young Naperville Singer from Illinois, Sarasota Young Voices from Florida, The Green Bay Girl Choir from Wisconsin as well as the Coastal Sound Children’s Choir and the Coastal Sound Youth Choir.

• Mon. July 4 @ 7:30 p.m. at SFU Convocation Mall, Burnaby;

• Tue. July 5 @ 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church, Vancouver;

• Wed. July 6 @ noon at Glen Pine Pavilion, Coquitlam;

• Wed. July 6 @ 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church, Vancouver;

• Fri.  July 8 @  7:30 p.m. at Andrew’s-Wesley Church, Vancouver;

• Sat. July 9 @ 7:30 p.m. at Chandos Pattison Auditorium, Surrey.

• For tickets, visit






















The Coastal Sound Children's Choir.