Guelph Youth Singers (GYS), now celebrating its 25th Anniversary season, has become a high-profile representative of the City of Guelph in the field of choral music. Now flourishing under artistic director and conductor, Markus Howard; the organization was founded in 1991, under founding music director, Linda Beaupré, to provide children and youth with an opportunity to experience a professional level of musicianship. The four treble choirs in the organization are:
Choir I, a training choir of children aged 6 and up; Choir II, a more advanced training choir of children and youth aged 9 and up; and Choir III, which is further subdivided into Cantabile Choir and Chamber Choir. Chamber Choir members are senior choristers of Choir III who have been chosen for their advanced singing and reading ability. They rehearse both with Cantabile Choir and separately each week, allowing them to prepare extra, more challenging music. Most of the singers in this group are in grades 9 and up, with a few selected Grade 8 students. Drawing from all choirs, a seasonal Boys Treble Choir was developed in 2005 to compete in the Guelph Kiwanis Festival, to sing a feature piece in the major spring concert and, more generally, to encourage the boys to appreciate their special part in the overall choir. In January 2014, a new addition to GYS treble choirs, the full- voiced SATB Choir, was introduced by Markus Howard, providing an exciting choral opportunity for boys and young men with changing or changed voices, as well as young women, who are 16 years old and over.
Weekly instruction includes vocal technique, theory and sight singing, and is augmented with workshops by guest clinicians in drama, movement and voice throughout the year. GYS performs up to five major concerts per season as well as workshop, festival, corporate, community and guest performances.
GYS has released three solo CDs: Bird in the Nest (1998), Wind in Our Sails (2002), and Into the Breeze (2011). The Choir has also performed on CDs with Guelph Chamber Choir (On Christmas Night, 1995); for the Canadian Literacy Association (Notable Canadian Choirs Sing Christmas Carols, 1996); with the Guelph folk ensemble, Tamarack (Blankets of Snow, 1998); and singing the title song on the CD Song of Our City: A Musical Celebration of Guelph.
All GYS choirs perform annually in the Guelph Kiwanis Festival, and have won the trophy for the Best Choral Programme annually since 1996. They have also distinguished themselves at both the Provincial and National levels of the Canadian Federation of Music Festivals, winning several provincial and national first prize awards.
Choirs III tours regularly throughout Canada and into the northern United States. Past performance highlights include singing for national conventions of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors (Quebec City, 1996 and Toronto, 2002) and the American Choral Directors Association (Chicago, 1999). They have performed in Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, Calgary, Syracuse (NY), Vancouver and Coquitlam (BC), New Glasgow (NS) and Moncton (NB) as guests of various choirs. They have also hosted choirs from southern Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Edmonton, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New York State as well as choirs from Japan and Slovenia. GYS has toured to perform as visiting guest artists to the State University of Potsdam, New York (2000), Albion College in Michigan (2001), Fort Wayne, Indiana (2003) and Farmington Hills, Michigan (2005). In May of 2008, Choir III/Chamber choristers were invited to form part of the honour choir, along with choristers from Bach Children’s Chorus, for the Children in Harmony Festival at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Plans are underway this season for a 25th Anniversary trip to New York City and a collaboration with the New York City Children’s Choir.
Auditions are held in the spring and late summer for entrance into the choir in September. Limited audition appointments are also available in November for children and youth who are seeking to enter GYS in January. For more information and to book an audition appointment, phone 519-821-8574.