Canada's Top Pop Choir Organization

Waterloo Region Record – August, 28, 2014

By Valerie Hill

KITCHENER — It’s taken three years to come to fruition, but in January the KW Glee Pop Show Choir will perform with a large and skilled backup band — the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
It’s an honour that thrills the choir’s vocal director, Amanda Kind.

“No high school show choir has been on stage with a professional symphony that we know about,” said Kind, the choir’s co-founder with musical director Steve Lehmann.
The symphony frequently performs classical music with the Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir. But this will be their first time with a youth group in full costume, singing and dancing to high-energy pop songs. It’s bound to shake up things.

“We started planning in 2012,” said Kind, who remembers being a bit nervous telling the choir after she received confirmation from the symphony. “I wondered if they understood the magnitude of this,” she said. “But there were tears.”

The kids understood the magnitude all right and their emotions reflected that understanding even though none of the 100 choir members are guaranteed a spot from year to year.
Members of both the junior (ages nine-13) and senior (14-20) choirs are chosen through an annual audition process: September for the fall term and January for the spring term.
Over the course of 12 weeks, the students learn music and choreography, culminating in a two-hour concert backed by a professional band.

Now in its fifth year and drawing kids from Waterloo Region, Stratford and Guelph, the choir with its staff of seven has grown beyond Kind’s expectations. Songs have been written for the choir — which has produced such successes as AJ Bridel, a finalist in the CBC reality show, Over the Rainbow, and a regular performer in Drayton productions. Kind said post secondary institutions come to Glee’s performances to scout talent, schools such as the prestigious Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

Glee, she said, works to build the talent in the kids and also make them good citizens, supportive of each other. Bullying is not tolerated. With this concentration on both talent and personal development, Glee has grown in popularity among youth with a hankering to perform.

Renaissance School of the Arts in Waterloo is still the choir’s home studio, but the numbers have grown so much it moves to a nearby church for rehearsals. And she said youth are not turned away if their parents can’t afford the tuition of $275 for juniors and $350 for seniors. KW Glee is primarily interested in nurturing talent, not making money. The also keep costs down by never demanding the kids purchase costumes for performances.

Kind said the kids are provided with themes from the “look book” and asked to come up with their own ideas using items borrowed or picked up in a thrift store, as long as the theme is adhered to. For a James Bond segment they will perform with the symphony, the boys will wear a three-piece suit and the girls elegant long dresses.

“Every kid likes to have their own unique style,” Kind said, adding the kids are also more comfortable putting together an outfit that fits their body type without spending a lot of money.
“You do your best job performing when you feel great.”

KW Glee Fall Auditions
Sept.19, 20 & 21
KW Glee performs with the K-W Symphony
Monday, Jan. 19 & Tuesday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m., Centre In The Square
Tickets $35 all seats, available at Centre In The Square, or call 519-745-4711 or toll free 1-888-745-4717.

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