Choral Program Overview
The choral program offers a variety of ensembles that focus on the development of singing skills and musicianship through the exploration of quality and diverse repertoire. A highly accomplished choral teacher leads all choral ensembles. Each ensemble participates in local, national and international festivals, which in the past have included the Calgary Performing Arts Festival, Alberta Choralfest, Banff Rocky Mountain Festival and the Whistler Con Brio Music Festival. Touring extensively, Central’s choirs have recently visited locations such as England, Scotland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. All choral ensembles are full-year, five-credit courses.
All choral students perform in the Concert Choir, which rehearses twice a week. In this choir, students in grades 10-12 develop their aural skills through the study and performance of music from several time periods and styles. This choir is designed to challenge and broaden students’ understanding of choral repertoire and techniques involved in performance of music in various styles, such as: classical, spiritual and art/folk music.
The Concert Choir performs at major musical events throughout the year. This ensemble has consistently received top ratings in local, national and international music festivals.
PVA Chamber Choir
The Chamber Choir is comprised of students who have successfully auditioned into the Performing and Visual Arts Program and want an in-depth musical experience. The Chamber Choir rehearses two to three times per week and performs quality repertoire of various styles and time periods. Chamber Choir students also take a musicianship course, learning music theory, harmony, ear training and sight singing. This choir performs throughout the school year at many and varied events. It is recognized as an advanced performance ensemble.
Professional Development in the Arts 35 / Entrepeneurial Artist (Junior Achievement)
All PVA students are enrolled in one of two courses; Professional Development in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement). These programs of study allow PVA students to explore how they see themselves as artists and become more aware of the process involved in preparing for the marketing and business aspect of being a professional in the arts community.
Students will experience a variety of teacher-led assignments/activities as well as a number of student-directed online projects.
Audition/Interview Requirements for Choral
To audition for PVA Choral, students must have previously submitted all components of the PVA Application Form.
The audition process for PVA Choral consists of a 20-minute audition and interview where a student’s background in vocal music, reasons for entering the program and commitment to the discipline will be discussed. In order to determine if we are a good fit for you, the interview process will also give you an opportunity to ask questions and learn about our program!
A parent or caregiver should accompany their child to the audition.
- The performance of a prepared piece (maximum three minutes), preferably memorized, of the candidate’s own choice, which best demonstrates the range and quality of the voice. Simplicity is the best policy. The applicant should bring two copies of their music, one for the audition panel as well as a copy of the sheet music for our accompanist who will be available to play for you. Use of a back-up tape (without any vocals) is also acceptable.
- During the audition, basic musicality including ear training and theoretical knowledge will be assessed. This will include a warm-up exercise and sight-reading.
Auditions will take place in Rm 173.
PVA auditions are friendly and supportive. This may be your first audition ever and we want everyone to have a positive and fun experience.
Band and Choral Instructor
Mike Gardner is the Director of Music at Central Memorial High. He holds a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music Education from the University of Missouri. Mr. Gardner has taught music in the public school system for 26 years. At Central Memorial, Mr. Gardner teaches and conducts the Symphonic Band, directs the Jazz Ensemble and teaches advanced vocal and instrumental musicianship classes. He also taught theory, ear training, and applied saxophone at Mount Royal College and is a director of the Westwinds Music Society. Mr. Gardner is active as a clinician and guest conductor in the province of Alberta.
In addition to Mr. Gardner’s teaching and conducting qualifications, he also performs as a saxophonist and arranges music for bands and choirs. He has performed with a variety of jazz musicians and groups such as the Eric Friedenberg Orchestra, the Prime Time Big Band, the Harry James Tribute Orchestra, The Tommy Dorsey Memorial Orchestra, and The Guy Lombardo Memorial Orchestra. He has also been a sideman for Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, Rob McConnell, Tommy Banks, and others.
Pianist and tenor Gregory Massey is a versatile musician who is trained in musical genres spanning from classical, to jazz, to rock. Gregory’s formal education includes completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, studies in jazz piano at Grant MacEwan College, and a year of graduate work at the University of Alberta’s main campus. Gregory also received his Grade 10 certificate in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Gregory is a skilled accompanist who works with singers and instrumentalists of all ages and abilities. The ability to perform in a variety of styles has opened many doors for Gregory, including being the lead pianist and keytar player in several Alberta based rock bands and being the Assistant Music Director at Living Spirit United Church. Gregory is currently living in Calgary, Alberta where he is an active teacher, director and accompanist.
Q: Are PVA music students required to take private lessons?
It is strongly recommended that PVA music students study privately with a professional instructor. This experience will facilitate strong foundational skills necessary in developing independence and confidence.
Q: What time commitment is required to be a PVA music student?
Music students typically attend 1 – 3 morning or after school rehearsals per week. In addition, Jazz Ensembles and Vocal Jazz meet either before or after school two or three times per week and those programs are by audition only. Music students perform at several concerts and events and tour each year. Tours take place in the province, within Canada, or internationally.
Q: When do PVA music students take Professional Development in the Arts 35?
All PVA Band students who choose to enroll in Musicianship will be expected to participate in Professional Development in the Arts 35. This self-directed course is a combination of teacher-directed assignments and activities combined with student-directed or on-line projects. Students will interview professional musicians, attend workshops and performances, develop a list of performance repertoire, study privately, develop a personal portfolio, and complete a final exit interview. This course is not scheduled into the timetable, but updates and teacher content will occur during musicianship classes and at designated appointment times.
Q: Are all choral students considered PVA students?
No. Only those students who have successfully auditioned for the PVA Choral program are considered to be part of the PVA Program.
Q: Are choir students allowed to audition for PVA musicals?
Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, PVA choral students will be allowed to audition for PVA musicals.
Q: Are there opportunities for PVA choral students to perform solos?
Solos within choir pieces are selected through in-class auditions. In addition to these opportunities, all PVA students perform in a solo recital each spring.
Links for music students
PVA Choral Alumni
Many graduates of the PVA Choral Program have gone on to post-secondary music programs or are currently pursuing professional careers. Alumni include:
- Allyson Beaven (Voice)
- Laura Wilson (Vocal Jazz)
- Alida Doornberg (Voice)
Humber College – Toronto
- Meg Contini (Vocal Jazz)
- Shannon MacNaughton (Vocal Jazz)
Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA
- Meghan Bell (Voice)
Mount Royal University
- Carley Ann Mitchell (Voice)
- Jenna Yorke-Slader (Voice)
Vancouver Island Community College
- Annie LeBaron (Vocal Jazz)
“Both of our daughters always loved to sing, but had very little musical training.
They began the three year program with undeveloped voices and no real idea of their potential. Mrs. Gardner literally transformed them and opened horizons they had never dreamed of. They became confident soloists, and sang in local and international competitions and events, and traveled with the choirs to Scotland, England, Germany, Prague, Vancouver and Idaho. They were given leadership roles that helped their confidence to blossom. In addition to gaining discipline around the use of their voices, they received extensive training in theory: reading music, ear training, and studying different eras of music. They learned the importance of respecting and contributing positively and formed a core group of friends that stays with them to this day. The benefits of this program are profound – one found her career path, and both discovered talents they would never have explored without the intense experience that was offered. We are so grateful that they were able to be part of this unique program.”
“The PVA choir program allowed me to learn about so may aspects of music and helped bridge my way into a musical college. There is no way I would have gotten to where I am today without the knowledge I received from PVA choir. I miss the support of my teachers and peers and how every person’s differences were considered unique and were cherished. It was such a great place to grow as a musician!!!”
I have been involved with music most of my life and have taken many Canadians on tours, but never heard the quality that came out of your program at Tewkesbury Abbey. You are the standard to beat for the Canadian High Schools. Hats off to all of you.”
“The PVA Program has allowed our daughter the opportunity to pursue her love of music through the choral program.
She is thrilled to be able to do this during her school day along with like-minded students. This means she is also exposed to many other art forms such as dance, drama, theatre, instrumental music and art. The success of the PVA Program lies in the dedication of the very professional and knowledgeable instructors. The time, effort and focus they bring to each and every program means that students are able to study their area of choice at a deeper level, learning both the artistic and technical aspects. Being able to travel and perform throughout the year further enhances their education. As parents, we are most grateful for a program which focuses on our daughter’s love of music and allows her to progress and enjoy every day. We often think back to our daughter’s first day in the PVA Program : “Guess what? I get to sing for homework!!”
“My daughter entered the vocal program at Central with many years of choral experience but no solo experience and minimal private instruction.
She was able to turn to Anne Gardner and the other members of the vocal program not only for school music program support and guidance, but also for private vocal coach instructors and summer camps. As a result of this support and the superior music education she received at Central Memorial, she received early admittance into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston along with a $10,000 annual scholarship. We will always be indebted to Anne and the program at Central.”