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Island kids win prizes in CBC national music-class challenge

Three Vancouver Island music programs have won their respective age categories in the annual Canadian Music Class Challenge, with several others placing among the top finishers in the national CBC competition.
Cross-Canada-Fiddle.jpg
Nanaimo’s Cross Canada Fiddle won the junior instrumental (Grades 7-10) category in a national ­competition run by CBC. VIA CBC

Three Vancouver Island music programs have won their respective age categories in the annual Canadian Music Class Challenge, with several others placing among the top finishers in the national CBC competition.

The top three entries in 10 categories were singled out by judges this week, with three music schools from Vancouver Island earning top honours. “I heard squeals and shrieks on the phone when I told them they had won,” said Victoria music instructor Fraser Campbell, whose group of elementary and middle school students was among the winners.

The prizes for this year’s challenge include thousands of dollars in gift certificates for instruments or other audio products from Long & McQuade.

Entrants could choose from a wide-ranging list of 22 popular Canadian songs, including Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette, You’re Still the One by Shania Twain and Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.

The junior choir from ­Victoria’s McKenzie Elementary went the medley route and won the primary vocal category for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. The 23-member choir’s rendition of songs by Jack Grunsky, Catherine ­MacLellan and Sam Roberts earned the school $3,000 in new ­musical ­instruments and a plaque ­commemorating the win.

Campbell’s music school in Saanich won the community music class category for its ­version of Alessia Cara’s ­October, the second of the school’s two entries in the contest — and its least-rehearsed, according to Campbell. “It was actually a last-minute thing,” he said with a laugh. “But we pulled it off.”

For their efforts, the 11 students in grades 5-8 were given $1,000 to spend at Long & McQuade.

Cross Canada Fiddle from Nanaimo won the junior instrumental (grades 7-10) category, $3,000 and praise from CBC host Julie Nesrallah, one of four judges in the contest. “What a team!” she said of the fiddle orchestra’s rendition of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom. “They play with such poise, beauty of tone and a sensitive sense of ensemble.”

Music programs at Chemainus Elementary (elementary vocal, grades 4-6), Arbutus Global Middle School (junior vocal, grades 7-10) and St. Michael’s University School (primary vocal, ­Kindergarten-Grade 3) were the other ­Vancouver Island entries to crack the top three in their respective categories.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

McKenzie Elementary’s Junior Choir

Fraser Campbell Music School

Cross Canada Fiddle