At the opening of the Spotlight on Canada concert on Wednesday – which featured the School’s “large ensembles” (Senior Choir, Concert Choir, Grade 9 Band, Grade 10 Band, Senior Band, Senior Orchestra and Senior String Orchestra – pretty impressive) – I mentioned that in my recent travels I hadn’t come across a school where music was such a living and breathing part of the culture. In fact, in my encounters with schools anywhere, ever, I haven’t come across a school where students take to music and make it a natural part of their lives so thoroughly. A telling consequence of this reality is that when we are learning a new hymn in Chapel, for instance, a student body full of reasonable sight readers gets it on just about the first crack.
The breadth, depth and quality of the evening was apparent with each ensemble. The highlight was a piece written by one of our parents, Paul O’Brien, and arranged by our Senior School music department head, Donna Williams, that put together the choir, the Senior String Orchestra and Paul O’Brien himself on vocals, in a tribute to Jowi Taylor. Jowi Taylor visited the school in the fall and revisited the school this week, bringing his tale of assembling Canadian culture in a single guitar crafted from pieces as disparate as a chunk of the Bluenose, a splinter of Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick, whale bone, a slab of the Golden Spruce and dozens of other shreds of Canadian geography and history. The effort and inspiration necessary to make this performance a success are remarkable, and it was a moment not to be missed. Bravo!