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Manitoba Regional Youth Choirs Return in Full Swing

Hundreds of young singers participate for first time since 2019

Singing in Manitoba is alive and well again! Four regions around the province were thrilled to host their regional youth choir programs after a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Central Manitoba Youth Choir, Eastman Youth Choir, Interlake Youth Choir, and Western Manitoba Youth Choir all held rehearsals in September and October and performed for audiences in their respective regions in mid-October. The auditioned choirs each drew a healthy contingent of singers and were collectively seen by thousands of Manitobans over the course of their tours.

The Central Manitoba Youth Choir (CMYC), directed by Kendra Obach (Selkirk) and accompanied by Loren Hiebert (Altona), held two rehearsal weekends at Circle Square Ranch near Austin, MB in September. From October 13-17 they held 3 or 4 concerts each day in middle schools and high schools, senior centres, and various churches. The CMYC concert featured repertoire that took audiences on a journey of Darkness to Light.

“It was wonderful to see the choristers begin to dig into more than just the songs, but what it means to bond as a choir,” said Kimberly Harms, CMYC committee member. “They discovered the joys of being singers from across southern Manitoba who come from all walks of life and how to become one moving part that finds unity in song.”

The 2022 Eastman Youth Choir (EMYC) was made up of 41 singers from grades 9-12 from various Eastern Manitoba cities and towns, who joined over three weekends to rehearse and perform on tour. The choir was directed by Vic Pankratz (Winnipeg) and accompanied by Julie Sidorchuk. Over two weekends at Camp Cedarwood and Camp Assiniboia, singers rehearsed ten selections of repertoire ranging from the works of Monteverdi to House of Doc.

The performance tour included school and church performances around Eastern Manitoba and a public sing at the Manitoba Legislative Building. As part of their tour, they also sang the national anthem at a Manitoba Moose hockey game. To cap off an exciting season of returning to choral singing, the EMYC has been invited to guest perform with Horizon on November 19 in Winnipeg.

Interlake Youth Choir (IYC) was pleased to return to in-person programming in October as well. IYC attracted a small but strong group of singers, who met at Camp Arnes for one weekend to work with director Sonya Williams (Winnipeg) and collaborative pianist Beth Emmers. Students bonded with one another and learned their music quickly over the course of one weekend of rehearsals. The singers touched on numerous languages and even explored odd time signatures as they prepared for their concert. The performance took place in Stonewall and featured local choir Quarry Choristers. The IYC performance was well received by students, family members, and friends from the surrounding community.

“It is amazing to think what COVID meant to our singers, in terms of opportunities lost, learning missed, and connections weakened,” said IYC committee member, Edward Cloud. “We took a strong step forward in the rebirth of our art… that allowed our youth to have a positive experience.”

Western Manitoba Youth Choir (WMYC) 2022 was a great success. Now in its 41st year, the WMYC was one of the original regional youth choirs to be created. Founded by Derek Morphy, Bill Lawson and Earl Davey to give students in the Westman region a high calibre experience unlike anything that was available to them at the time. The choir still offers this experience to its singers today.

This year’s WMYC was comprised of 39 singers, representing 14 different communities across the region. The choir was co-directed by Philip Lapatha (Winnipeg) and Sarah Hall (Brandon) and accompanied by Danielle Guina. The choir met at Camp Wannakumbac for a weekend of rehearsals hitting the road to tour around Westman.

Manitoba Choral Association (MCA) Executive Director Jenny Steinke-Magnus was fortunate to attend performances of each regional choir in October. “It was exciting to see firsthand the enthusiasm for choral singing in the regions,” Jenny said. “It’s hard to believe that only a short time ago these programs were at a standstill. Now there are hundreds of young, talented singers coming together and building community once again. This is the future of choir in our province!”

Now that the regional youth choir programs have wrapped up for 2022, committees are already shifting their focus to next year’s activities. Thanks to the huge success of the 2022 choirs, the regional youth choirs will be ready to launch auditions for next year in early-to mid-2023. They will once again hold rehearsals and performances in the fall, when they can bring choral music to singers across each region again next year!

For more information on Manitoba’s regional youth choirs, please visit them online:

Central Manitoba Youth Choir

Eastman Youth Choir

Interlake Youth Choir

Westman Youth Choir

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