This fall the Northern Lights Youth Choir (theNLYC) of Fort St. John, BC welcomes new director, Jennifer Giesbrecht (nee Lavigne), to the helm. Mrs. Giesbrecht has a BA Music in Vocal Performance and is anticipating big things for this coming season. “As a musician who grew up in Fort St. John and sang in this choir as a child, it’s a special moment for me to return all these years later as the director,” says Jennifer. Seven years after she and her husband left Fort St. John to pursue their educational goals, they found themselves and their young daughter back in town in May 2011. “I thought returning home would be hard – we’d gotten used to living in cities and I felt that perhaps there were more opportunities out there than here. I was pleasantly surprised when we returned to find that the arts community in the North Peace is flourishing and that there is so much interest in these types of programs,” says Giesbrecht, referencing the North Peace Community Choir, up-start community band program, “Northern Winds”, and the inter-church community Christmas choir, “Imagine” as other great examples.

In a time when arts funding for schools is difficult to come by and when frequent contract instability can stifle otherwise enthusiastic public school teachers’ extracurricular offerings, Mrs. Giesbrecht thinks that programs such as the children and youth choir become even more important the local arts community. “Choral singing is a foundational skill for building good musicianship in a child. With great repertoire and educational rehearsals by an enthusiastic and qualified director, choir can quickly become a highlight of your child’s week – and perhaps even their childhood,” explains Jennifer. “Although your child may never go on to become a professional singer, the discipline, the exploration of creativity and music appreciation and the community-building that occurs in a choir setting are skills that last a lifetime!”.

Mrs. Giesbrecht has exciting plans for the choir this fall, sharing that her main goals include increasing the community’s awareness of the group and re-energizing their concert presentations. “Many families in the community are simply unaware that we have already, for many years, been offering them access to a high-quality choral program for youth that is engaging, affordable and fun! Making sure to get our name out in the community and online is so key,” she says, anticipating that enrollment this year will be higher than in the past due to extra promotional efforts this fall. At just $100 per student for the entire year plus fees, the choir program is one of the most cost-effective arts options in the area. Students 7 to 17 years old will learn to read basic music notation and rhythms, be instructed in proper singing technique and explore their creative side with a focus on not just singing the notes but expressing the music in a meaningful way. The group performs songs from a variety of genres so there is sure to be something for everyone in their repertoire! Rehearsals are every Friday from 4:00-5:30pm at the Cultural Centre and start on September 28th. Registration can be completed online now or in-person at one of the first three rehearsals.

 For more information on the choir, please visit www.theNLYC.com, email info@theNLYC.com or call 250-261-5389. The choir will also have a table at One-Stop Registration on September 8th at the Totem Mall from 10am-2pm. Come SING with us!