– DARE2sing Children making a joyful noise in Rexdale!
Partnering with City of Toronto Cultural Services, The Toronto District School Board and Rexdale Outreach Choir, DAREarts is “daring” GTA kids to sing together!
The DAREarts Children’s Choir was first formed in response to community needs. In 2001, the choir performed at the Nobel Peace Prize’s 100th Anniversary Concert in Norway with Sir Paul McCartney. For several years recently, it was primarily a jazz choir with ‘We Are One’ and then as a Glee Club.
This year, it has a new direction which focuses on songs generated by the DAREarts youths themselves. Master musicians Sarah Hicks (vocal), Sam Chung (vocal) and Christina Fey (accompanist) along with youth mentors from ROC (Rexdale Outreach Choir) are meeting weekly with students from three Rexdale area schools: Gulfstream, North Kipling and Beaumond Heights.
DAREarts founder, Marilyn Field, has been dividing her time between the three schools, encouraging, listening and engaging with them.
“Watching the kids in choir singing together reminds me how critical music is to our very being. Yes, these kids are learning how to support their team by being their best, just like in any sport. But it goes far beyond that. With their music, these kids are also sharing together those innermost places inside themselves where music-making goes – and they laugh and cry together and then feel empowered to handle their life challenges with strength.”
The kids are currently practising and preparing for a public concert for their friends and families. On March 6th, the three schools will gather and perform as one DARE2sing Choir at the DAREarts Winter Showcase. They’ll be meeting each other for the first time, creating a ‘Glee Club’ atmosphere for success and spreading the good news about their communities.
“They all have different strengths,” Sarah said, “Some of them have never sung in their lives.” But that inexperience faded away with each lunch hour. After eating their bag lunches, the children gathered by the piano where they practised how to breathe, warm up physically and mentally, and use their voices as instruments of expression. With the sounds of screaming children echoing off the walls from behind the partition on the other side of the gym, they danced around the gym and sang, ‘We are Marching in the Light of Love’. When they stopped, out of breath, they sang it again. Their voices grew stronger as they concentrated on getting air in their lungs instead of on how shy they felt about singing. A good ploy, Sarah!
“I want to see myself strong, I want to see myself proud.”– lyrics from Spirit of the North
Diversity is reflected in the song choices. A sweet Hebrew song is sung and their voices lift up, filling the gym with sweetness. One of the songs they’re learning is the anthem, “Spirit of the North” written by Glenn Marais and DAREarts First Roots Aboriginal Program youth in Webequie First Nation. When Cathy Elliott and two members of the ROC choir sing the song for the kids from Gulfstream, the children listen and start learning the song right away. When asked what they thought of the song, they are enthusiastic, “It made me feel like I was right there with them.” One girl raises her hand, “I can see the land they live in. I really love the words.”
On March 6th, the DAREarts Winter Showcase at NACI (North Albion Collegiate) will gather over a two hundred children and youth mentors from 17 schools all over the GTA to bring their communities together in celebration of their excellent work with DAREarts.
DAREarts acknowledges the support of: our lead sponsor, Northbridge Insurance, BMO Financial Group, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, CIBC Children’s Foundation, HUB International, Noront Resources, Telus Toronto Community Board, TDSB, TD, Ontario Arts Foundation, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Government of Ontario.
Visit www.darearts.com for information on how you can get involved.