Awards Benefit Concert proves that support pays off

Photo by Analyn Cuarto
Photo by Analyn Cuarto

Music students give performances and receive awards

By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor


On Friday, March 31, the Douglas College Music Department reminded audiences of the talent fostered—and opportunities opened—by the continuing support of donors.

The Choirs and Concert Band showed off their skills at Friday’s annual Awards Benefit Concert, part of the Spring 2017 Concert Series. This concert is heldboth to recognize and appreciate these blossoming musicians, and to raise awareness and funds for the Music Department’s scholarships and awards.

The first half of the concert featured the Chorus and Chorale vocal groups conducted by Eric Hannan. First up was the larger Chorus, made up of students and other community members, beginning with a lively rendition of Sid Robinovitch’s “Noche de Lluvia,” and followed by a couple of solemner psalms and hymns by Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn.

The Chorus’ first few pieces all featured a beautiful balance of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass ranges. Then, to change it up, only the male voices performed “’A vuchella,” by Franceso Paolo Tosti, a playful and teasing song about seeking a kiss.

Probably the most interesting piece performed by the full Chorus was Calvin Hampton’s “O lord, support us,” which was accompanied by a track of tinkling bells and glockenspiels, giving the song a distinctly ethereal quality.

Next on the stage was the Chorale, made up of a few select singers. They started with Baroque composer Charpentier’s “Pour le Saint Sacrement au réposoir,” featuring accompaniment by two flutes and the theorbo (a type of lute). My favourite of the Chorale’s performances was probably Brahms’ “In stiller Nacht,” a mournful yet uplifting piece about one’s emotional unity with nature.

As well as harmonious, the choirs’ performances were also culturally and linguistically enriching: They sung in Latin, German, Italian, French, and Portuguese, as well as English. The audience was given booklets with English translations of the lyrics, but even without the translations, the songs were unmistakably moving. The more religious choral pieces conveyed a deep sense of devotion, while the Chorale’s final piece, a Brazilian folk song, was clearly a lot of fun.

The show then went to a brief intermission, during which the stage was rearranged to prepare for the Concert Band. However, before the next performances took place came the most exciting part of the night: the scholarships and awards, presented by Jane Evans of the Douglas College Foundation and Music Department coordinator Heather Harty Scott.

The presenters first took a moment to acknowledge the recipients of the entrance scholarships that had been given out at the start of the school year, before announcing the winners of this year’s end of term prizes. Many of these awards and scholarships were established by—or dedicated to—former faculty or alumni of the Music Department who had wished to continue the tradition of supporting this musical community.

Thirteen first-year and second-year music students received awards for their talent, artistry, dedication, academic excellence, and musical growth, especially those students planning to continue their musical education. The final prizes of the night were the four Music Student Recognition Awards, which are funded in part by ticket sales for the very concert the awards were being presented at.

After the awards were presented, the music resumed with the Concert Band, conducted by John van Deursen, immediately launching into a performance of the energetic “Toccata Marziale” by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The band’s next piece was an especially elaborate one. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, they performed Howard Cable’s “Berczy Portraits.” William Berczy was a preeminent painter and architect of pre-Confederation Canada and co-founder of Toronto. “Berczy Portraits” is in three distinct movements corresponding to three paintings by the artist, and the music ranged from majestically stately to bold and uninhibited.

One of the Concert Band’s pieces even featured a guest performance by a student outside the band, violinist Jeongah Choi. As van Deuresen explained, violins and wind bands are an uncommon combination, so it was a rare treat to hear the incredibly talented violinist lead the group in the zesty, Roma-influenced “Zigeunerweisen” by Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate.

Finally, the Concert Band finished the show with Eric Whitacre’s “Equus.” The title means “horse,” which manifested energetically in the piece’s palpable pulse, with upbeat rhythms carrying the song through to the close of the concert.

After witnessing a show full of musicianship from both vocal and instrumental ensembles, it’s impossible not to respect the time, effort, and emotion that goes into performing. You gain a new appreciation for how elaborate a performing ensemble is, how many different instruments or vocal parts coordinate with one another, and how many hours of rehearsal must go into making everything fit together.

For those who would like to support the Music Student Awards, the Department is always grateful for donations—simply go to to contribute.