MEDIA RELEASE: Exploring Cultural Identity Through Music

The Annapolis Valley Honour Choir’s 2017-18 season offers a series of concerts and activities that explore the central theme of “home”, what is means to find home, to be home, and to support others in making home.

The first concert of the season, “Shall We Dream shares the emotional journey of those leaving behind a homeland in a search for a better tomorrow and will be the culmination of an entire weekend of activities for both choristers and community members geared towards exploring new cultures and music and our own role as hosts to newly landed immigrants in our community.

Two performances of this must-see concert will take place at the Horton High School Performance Centre on October 21 (7pm) and October 22 (2:30pm). The concert will share the struggles of searching and wandering but also the joys of finding peace and building bridges, and will be full of emotional, heart-rendering performances.  Our guests will include recently settled immigrant families in our Valley as well as a Syrian lute player, Hussam Al Assaf, who has newly arrived to Nova Scotia. 

AVHC Students will participate in a weekend of workshops and music-making with Arabic musical guests, Shireen Abu-Khatter and Hussein Janmohamed. Shireen and Hussein, both PhD students from the University of Toronto (School of Music) and accomplished musicians themselves, will offer a public workshop on Sunday October 22nd from 10:00 – 12:00 at Acadia University’s Denton Hall. This workshop is open to all thanks to funding provided by a successful grant proposal crafted by AVHC Artistic Director Heather Fraser.  A free will offering will help support the travel costs for our guest speakers.

Please join us for both this special workshop and our first concert of the season. Welcome our newest immigrant families to the Valley and learn something new about their music and culture.

Tickets can be purchased at any Ticketpro outlet (www.ticketpro.ca) and are $15 for adults and $5 for students/children (plus Ticketpro fees) or $20 at the door if available.  For further concert information or AVHC news, check the website www.avhc.ca or www.valleyevents.ca.  

Annapolis Valley Honour Choir Launches 2017-18 Season!

PRESS RELEASE: September 7, 2017

Artistic Director and Conductor Heather Fraser has just returned from a sabbatical year working with some of North America’s most talented choirs and conductors, so it’s perhaps not surprising that she has chosen to focus this year’s season on the theme of “home”. The performances will explore what home means to each of us in a world where people are too often displaced and forced to find and create a new sense of belonging.

In developing the season line-up, the AVHC was successful in receiving special grant funding to invite, this fall, Arabic musical guests from Toronto, Shireen Abu-Khatter and Hussein Janmohamed. These expert clinicians will provide a weekend of workshops for AVHC choristers in Arabic music and cultural identity in addition to a presentation open to the public at Acadia University. These sessions will culminate in two moving “must see” performances open to all. Through music exploring what it means to leave home behind, “Shall We Dream”, will be at Horton High School’s Performance Centre on October 21st and 22nd.

The ever popular holiday concert, this year entitled “On This Winter’s Night With You”, will celebrate East Coast Celtic traditions and music and is guaranteed to be a good ol’ Maritime kitchen party. To round out a night of down home music and stories, the AVHC will be joined by two well-loved local favourites, singer-song writer, Sarah Pound Gaetz and actor-director Mike Butler. Two concerts will take place at Horton High School on December 9th at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

The spring concert, “North” will take place at the Wolfville Baptists Church on May 12 and will feature music selected with the input of AVHC choristers to capture their own thoughts and feelings of what home means to them.

In addition to these special concerts, the AVHC season has a few other highlights. Choir members will perform at the Deep Roots Festival in September sharing the stage with Coco Love Alcorn and, in the spring, will participate in the provincial Juvenata Youth Festival in Halifax.

The AVHC this year has its largest cohort of singers ever with 140 junior and senior choir members hailing from throughout the Annapolis Valley.

For further concert information or AVHC news, check the website www.avhc.ca or www.valleyevents.ca. Tickets will be available soon from Ticketpro or the AVHC website.

AVHC 2016-17 Season Performance Dates!

Please find below a list of our main 2016-17 Concerts and Events.  Please refer to our Events page for detailed information about each concert, as well as ticket purchases! 

Coffee House! - Senior Choir
Friday, October 21st, 7:00pm
Wolfville Farmer's Market

Remembrance Day Ceremony - Junior Choir
Friday, November 11th, 10:45am
Acadia University Convocation Hall

Snow Lay on the Ground - Both Choirs
Saturday, December 3rd, 2:30pm and 7:00pm
Wolfville Baptist Church

February/March - Performances TBA

Annapolis Valley Music Festival
Competitive Choral Classes
Tuesday, April 25th, beginning at 6:00pm

Songs of the Land - A Canadian Song Celebration
Saturday, May 13th, 2:30 and 7:00pm
Wolfville Baptist Church

Heather Fraser - Teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony

Reposted from The Grapevine, Issue No. 13.06
Written by Mike Butler

See Full issue here: http://grapevinepublishing.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/The-Grapevine-April-21-2016.pdf 

HEATHER RACHAEL FRASER was born and bred in the Annapolis Valley. She grew up in Weston, on a lovely old property at the foot of the north mountain with her mom, dad, and sister. Music always played a huge part in Heather’s young life, which included piano lessons, tots and tunes, workshops, the South Berwick Girl's Choir, and the Honour Choir -- the same choir that Heather is now conducting.

She says, “Music was basically my life. But I didn't think it was going to be my career. In high school I was so sure I was going to go into the sciences. But one interview with a biology professor at Acadia freaked me out so much I left his office and signed up for an audition for the music department the same day.” And so many are glad Heather made that decision! After her piano degree at Acadia, Heather took a year off, took some music education courses, and got a job at the Port Williams Baptist Church as their music director. In that year she realized how much she loved teaching, and wanted to be ON the podium, instead of at the piano. So she registered in the Music Education program at McGill University and she used all her singing/accompanying experience that she had gained with the Honour Choir to propel her in the direction of choral conducting.  

After a few years of teaching in London, UK, Heather returned to Nova Scotia in 2009 and was hired at the NS Choral Federation as Program Director. She took over as Artistic Director of the Annapolis Valley Honour Choirs (AVHC) in 2010. Heather has been fortunate to work with some incredible musicians and musical directors over the years and she attributes a lot of her strengths, work habits, and drive to her mentors Ross Thompson and Iwan Edwards. But her biggest influence, and her primary mentor, was her dad. Heather states, “My dad was my biggest influence with my music and I really wouldn't be doing any of this if it hadn't been for his dedication and guidance and the education he gave me. He said when I was born that my long fingers meant I was going to be a pianist. He died a year ago from cancer and it's been quite devastating.”

As Artistic Director of the AVHC, Heather has a true passion for this job. She considers it a great honour to be able to teach choral music to young people and to pass along the same incredible joy and gift that was given to her. The vision statement of the AVHC is "to deliver a complete choral education, nurture healthy developing voices, and achieve musical excellence - all while building a community of knowledgeable, thoughtful young musicians and caring, engaged citizens who will share in a life-long love of singing."

Heather states, “I strongly believe in this statement. I love watching the singers succeed and become stronger, better musicians. They come from varied backgrounds, but they all want to be good and they want to be challenged. It is my job to create a safe space for our singers to take musical risks, to go for broke without fear of judgment and I love watching the singers grow each year. I love watching them rely on each other, and support one another in times of need.” Besides the love of music and students, Heather enjoys the community involvement and the sense of family that the AVHC has become over the years.

After an exciting adventure recently in Cuba with the Choir, Heather has returned and is polishing up the program for the final AVHC concert of the year on May 13 at Christ Church in Windsor, and May 14 at the Wolfville Baptist Church. Both shows start at 7:30pm. Come and see everything that choral music encompasses and what it really can be! Heather says the program will include some First Nations music, music from Cuba and Latin America, music from home, and music that just expresses the true joy that songs bring to life. As the Program Director for the Nova Scotia Choral Federation, Heather also develops and coordinates the provincial choirs (Nova Scotia Youth Choir, Children's Chorus of Nova Scotia etc.), the annual "Sing Summer" Choir Camps that are held at the Berwick United Church campgrounds each August, and workshops of all kinds, bringing in guest conductors and clinicians. 

And what does she love most about living here? “Where else in the world would be better really? It's bloody gorgeous. It's a beautiful place full of kind, generous people, with a true sense of community. And the best thing - the amount of culture, the amount of artistic activity, and the community support for these arts activities to flourish and be sustained. From Acadia's programs to all of the community theatre, music, dance, and all the artists and artisans, it really is a land of plenty. We should feel so incredibly lucky.”

Heather’s goals are to continue to grow the AVHC organization -- to expand their outreach, do more collaboration with other choral and arts groups, continue to strive to create wonderful musical performances and reach new heights, and to share their music with as many people as they can. She would also like to continue her professional development in conducting to be able to offer these singers more, and to be the best conductor and educator she can be. Well, with her enthusiastic personality, and her passion for her projects, this should happen before she knows it! 


 

Honour choir event offers sweet sounding performances, tasty treats

The AVHC hosted ‘Sweets for the Sweet’ at the Louis Millett Community Complex in New Minas Feb. 21. Conducted by Heather Fraser and accompanied on keyboard by Gus Webb, the junior choir performed a variety of numbers. Choristers also gave several solo performances. At intermission, cakes and drinks were served.

Read the full article in the Kings County News

Press Release to the Media Outlets

"The AVHC Board issues the following media release in response to today’s events regarding the choir." – October 7, 2015

The Annapolis Valley Honour Choir is saddened to learn that charges have been laid by the Kings RCMP against a former parent in relation to mishandling of monetary funds.

The Annapolis Valley Honour Choir has been instructing youth for over 25 years within the Annapolis Valley. Once a school board based program, the organization evolved in 1999, into a community led auditioned choir accepting choristers from Annapolis, Kings, and Hants counties. The organization emphasizes musical and vocal training through choral music experiences that allow leadership opportunities, volunteerism, and community involvement. It provides a powerful means for young choral musicians to express themselves musically nurturing confidence and self-esteem.

The Board members of the organization along with its staff are committed to providing an instructional music program that enriches the lives of its members and their communities. "The Annapolis Valley Honour Choir will continue to perform, host, and maintain the high level of excellence that our supporters and community members have come to expect from our organization. Our Board and the parent membership are committed that this disappointing news will not deter our choristers from doing what they love to do; make beautiful music and sharing it with others." says Board Chair, Kim Sweet.

The Choir next performs at the "Don't Be Afraid - A Choir for Social Change" Fundraising Event on October 24, 2015 at Horton High School beginning at 7:30 pm.

Music from coast to coast in joint concert between Annapolis Valley Honour Choir, B.C. children’s choir

The Annapolis Valley Honour Choir’s junior members and British Columbia’s Coastal Sound Children’s Choir will exchange music and stories in a spirited concert on May 18.

The joint concert, We Live Here, will explore maritime culture, coastal communities and coastal industries, through the lens of choral music.

The audience will hear beloved folk songs from both provinces, including Canadian composers Sarah Quartel, Brian Tate, Eleanor Daley, Lloyd Arntzen and more.

See the full article in Kings County News!

AVHC Auditions

The Annapolis Valley Honour Choir is announcing auditions for new choir members for the next school year, beginning in September.  Any students in Grades 5-12 during the 2014-2015 academic year are invited to attend!
 
Known as one of the province’s best choral music organizations, the AVHC now has two choirs with 120 students from throughout the Annapolis Valley Region. For the last 25 years, it has been educating young singers to be better musicians, choristers and citizens of their communities.

Auditions for both Junior Choir (Grades 5-8) and Senior Choir (Grades 8-12) will be taking place on from June 2nd to 6th at various locations across the valley!

All detailed information about the choir, audition locations as well as online registration for auditions can be found on the AVHC website, www.avhc.ca.