Articles tagged with: choir

  • Music students’ talent shines on provincial stage

    Brock University Music students Lee Bakker, Isaiah Burry and Caroline Young join Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff after their Ontario Youth Choir performance.


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    After spending the summer fine-tuning their choral skills, three Brock Music students are ready to start the school year on a high note.

    Third-year student Caroline Young and fourth-year students Isaiah Burry and Lee Bakker found themselves surrounded by talented and inspired chorists from across the province after successfully auditioning for the Ontario Youth Choir (OYC) earlier this year.

    The OYC is an honour choir that showcases the skills and abilities of Ontario singers between the ages of 16 and 23. The 10-day summer training intensive gives students the chance to be part of a large group of motivated and enthusiastic singers, with their hard work culminating in a final performance.

    The OYC’s selection process began with an audition, which included a solo piece, vocal warm-ups to gauge the performer’s vocal range and a piece chosen by the OYC to be performed acapella.

    Having successfully completed the audition process Bakker, Burry and Young quickly came to realize that they were among a collective of gifted chorists.

    “I was surrounded by so many voice majors and talented instructors, it really challenged me,” Young said. “This opportunity definitely helped me grow as a musician.”

    Prior to living in Ontario, Burry was part of the B.C. Youth Choir. His time with OYC, however, left him impressed by the talent he found himself immersed in.

    “Everyone was studying voice in some manner on a university level and being surrounded by those like-minded individuals was really cool,” he said.

    As the program got underway, it became clear that it had a different dynamic than most choral programs, Burry said. Rather than creating a student and teacher environment, it offered more of an artistic collective.

    “They treat you as a colleague and because of that, there’s a lot more responsibility,” Burry said. “We rehearsed, on average, eight hours a day and by the end of the day, if there was something that still needed to be worked on for you personally, then that was your responsibility. You had to do your part because the next day everyone was going to be working on something else.”

    The program and its final performance was a rejuvenating experience for all three Brock students as they prepared to head into the new academic year.

    “I feel like I can take more risks now, especially with solo performances,” said Young. “If I can stand up and audition for the OYC then I can definitely stand up and perform for the Brock Choir.”

    Burry said the final performance left him with a “feeling of motivation reignited in me.”

    “In my mind, I chalked it up to the fact that what I was getting through OYC was a glimpse at the next step of being a professional chorister,” he said.

    In attendance at the final performance was Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Conductor of the Brock University Choir and Sora Singers, and Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers.

    “The Ontario Youth Choir has played a significant role in the lives of young choral singers across the province for many decades and it was very special to have three of our own students representing Brock’s Music program in this prestigious choral ensemble,” Rensink-Hoff said. “To witness the energy and passion in their culminating performance, particularly given the obstacles faced by choral musicians over the past two and a half years, was heartwarming. I look forward to encouraging future students to audition for this tremendous musical experience.”

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    Categories: Current Students, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News

  • Brock’s Niagara Choral Workshop open to community


    Originally published in The Brock News MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    A three-day workshop this summer is inviting the community to learn the ins and outs of choral singing at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Led by Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff, the Niagara Choral Workshop is designed for choral conductors, teachers, song leaders and those with a general interest in the topic. The workshop, for which applications are now open, will be taught through engaging and interactive sessions on sound exploration, rehearsal strategies, conducting techniques and repertoire perspectives.

    Alongside Rensink-Hoff, the learning experience will also feature guest speakers Karen Burke, Associate Professor at York University School of the Arts, Performance, Media and Design, and Elroy Friesen, Professor and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Manitoba.

    The workshop will run from Aug. 24 to 27 at the MIWSFPA. Each day will comprise of hands-on masterclasses, group discussions and group sessions with choral colleagues on current topics in choral singing.

    “Our three-day choral workshop is designed to inspire and equip choral educators and conductors of all levels of experience with hands-on workshops and discussion-based explorations of relevant topics, including the joy of singing with others,” Rensink-Hoff says.

    Registration for the workshop is open to professionals and students, as well as the general public. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, June 15. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. To apply or for more information, please visit the Brock Music web page.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock Choir sings new tune for virtual 2020-21 season

    (including content published THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 03, 2020 | in The Brock News by )

    Choir at Brock University will look a little different this fall by moving to a virtual rehearsal format.

    “Given the known risks of singing together in groups, we will not attempt to do what we normally do until health guidelines permit us,” says Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music and Choir Director.

    While not being able to safely gather and practice in person together is a challenge for those in choir, Rensink-Hoff sees it as an opportunity.

    “We have a unique opportunity to get to know and learn from one another in new ways through online discussion and active engagement.”

    Rensink-Hoff will focus the choir on pursuing some of the things they haven’t usually had time for, such as building individual skills in vocal technique and stage presence, analyzing music as a vehicle for storytelling, and reflecting on the historical and cultural contexts of songs. There will also be a “Shared Perspectives” series of guest interviews and workshops with conductors, composers and vocal-choral specialists from across Canada and the U.S.

    Choir members will need headphones, a video recording device such as a phone, computer or tablet, as well as internet connection.

    The Treble Choir (sopranos and altos) will rehearse together virtually on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., and the Mixed Voices choir (sopranos, altos, tenors and basses) will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

    “Our work will emphasize the process, rehearsing, over the product, performing,” says Rensink-Hoff. “This is a tough transition for those of us in the arts, but it is also a chance to for us to strengthen our performance skills and to reflect on the significance of live performance to individuals and communities.”

    Choir auditions are open to Brock students, faculty, staff as well as members of the wider Niagara community. Both new and returning choir members may book their auditions online before the deadline on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 11:59 p.m.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Michelle Pressé, Brock University Communications, mpresse@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 905-246-1963


    SING@BROCK ONLINE EDITION: audition for choir 2020-21

    Open by audition to all students, faculty, staff and members of the Niagara community!

    For the 2020-2021 academic year, choir will be fully online until guidelines allow for other forms of gathering. As such, the course will be less about performance outcomes and more about the process of learning, connecting, exploring and innovating as key elements of ensemble participation.

    Singers will engage with a diverse body of choral repertoire in sessions on vocal technique and choral skill development, explorations of movement and stage presence, analysis of music and text, workshops with guest artists, and collaborations through innovative singing projects. Rehearsal and performance skills will be developed in the context of a supportive community that promotes cross-cultural understanding and self-expression.

    Previous singing experience and ability to read music is required.
    For more information contact:
    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, rrensinkhoff@brocku.ca
    SEE >>> brocku.ca/sing

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News, Uncategorised

  • Choral season to wrap with final show

    The Avanti Chamber Singers, under the direction of Rachel Rensink-Hoff, will close out the 2017-18 Department of Music season on Saturday, April 28 at St. Thomas Anglican Church.

    The curtain will close on Brock’s 2017-18 Music season with a final performance by the Avanti Chamber Singers.

    Boundless, the last concert of the academic year, will be presented by the Department of Music and the Avanti Chamber Singers on Saturday, April 28 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at St. Thomas Anglican Church, 99 Ontario St., St. Catharines.

    The show features celestial-inspired music, exploring the harmony and mystery of the universe with a range of primarily 21st-century works.

    The program includes pieces such as Gloria Patri by Urmas Sisask, And Einstein Said by Trent Worthington, Stars by Eriks Ešenvalds, and the centerpiece of the program, Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridsen.

    The Avanti Chamber Singers is a mixed chamber choir comprised of experienced choral singers from across the Niagara region. The group performs under the direction of Artistic Director Rachel Rensink-Hoff, who is also conductor of the Brock University choirs, Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music Education at Brock University.

    “It has been a wonderful year,” she said when describing the choral and concert season as a whole. “We are seeing more and more people from the local community coming to our concerts, which is so exciting and motivating for our performers.”

    Looking forward to the 2018-19 Music season, there will be new choral opportunities for students and the community. The Brock choirs are being restructured to feature two ensembles: a mixed chamber choir and a women’s choir. Both are open by audition to all Brock University students, staff and faculty. New for this year, the women’s choir will also be open to the wider Niagara community “in hopes that it will function as a bridge between Brock’s music program and the wider singing community here in St. Catharines,” Rensink-Hoff said.

    Women’s choir rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8:45 p.m. in the Cairns Recital Hall of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Interested singers from the community are encouraged to contact Rensink-Hoff by email at rrensinkhoff@brocku.ca for an audition.

    Advance tickets for the last choral concert of the season are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students and under the eyeGo program. They can be purchased at Thorold Music, 289 Glendale Ave.; Booksmart, 350 Vine St.; online through Eventbrite; or through members of the Avanti Chamber Singers.

    Tickets will also be sold at the door for an additional $5.

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    Categories: Department/Centre News, Events

  • Brock University welcomes Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff!

    Brock University welcomes Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff to the Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts.

    Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff is the newly appointed Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music Education at Brock University. She has also been named Artistic Director of the Niagara-based Avanti Chamber Singers.

    Former conductor of the McMaster University Choir and founder of the McMaster Women’s Choir, Dr. Rensink-Hoff completed her Doctorate and Master of Music degree at Western University, pursuing additional studies at the Eastman School of Music Conducting Institute, the Voice Care Network of St. John’s University, Minnesota, and the University of Toronto. She has engaged in master-classes under conductors Helmuth Rilling, Joseph Flummerfelt, Anton Armstrong, Dale Warland and the late Sir David Willcocks.

    Vice-President of Programming for Choral Canada, Rachel Rensink-Hoff is the 2014 winner of the prestigious Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting awarded by the Ontario Arts Council. In 2015, her McMaster Women’s Choir was awarded first prize in the National Choral Competition for Amateur Choirs of the CBC and Choral Canada. That same year she was nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Award at McMaster University.

    She publishes regularly in the Choral Journal of the American Choral Directors’ Association as well as in Choral Canada’s Anacrusis and The Canadian Music Educator. Rachel works frequently as guest conductor, adjudicator, conference presenter and workshop clinician. Current engagements include a session on Canadian and American women choral composers at the 2017 national conference of the American Choral Directors’ Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a presentation on Canadian choral music at the 2017 World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona, Spain. She also looks forward to serving as guest conductor of this year’s 2017 Nova Scotia Provincial Youth Choir.

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, News