GYS Mission Statement
To develop the artistic soul and musical skills of children and youth through exposure to professional instructors, and diverse repertoire and performance experiences; to instill in young singers a love of choral music, and a joy for singing and performing together; and to provide the general public with enjoyable choral performances of the highest standards.
A Brief History of GYS
Guelph Youth Singers (GYS) was formed in 1991 as a joint project of the Guelph Arts Council and the Guelph Chamber Music Society to provide the children of Guelph with the opportunity to develop musical and choral excellence to the best of their ability. Founding artistic director and conductor, Linda Beaupré, nurtured and developed the choir for 22 years until her retirement in June 2013, establishing Guelph Youth Singers as a high-profile representative of the City of Guelph in the field of choral music. In September 2013, GYS welcomed Markus Howard as artistic director and conductor and the choir continues to flourish as it heads into its 28th season.
Through weekly sight singing instruction using peer mentors for teaching and testing and progressive theory instruction involving five levels of theory paralleled by a system of flashcards, the choristers in GYS experience a truly professional level of musicianship under the guidance of the artistic director and conductor.
The choir is organized into age and capability-appropriate groups so that each chorister is given the opportunity to improve their musical and singing skills within a group of peers that match their skill and age.
- Choir I is a training choir for children aged 6 and up.
- Choir II is a more advanced teaching choir for children 9 and up.
- Choir III is a choir of superior singing and musical ability for children aged 11 and up.
- Choir III also encompasses a Chamber Choir that is comprised of singers aged 14 and up, who are selected for their superior sight-reading and singing skills, and perform challenging repertoire appropriate to their level.
- Musical Theatre Academy (New in 2018/2019) is a comprehensive triple- threat performance program for youth. A weekly three-hour session will include solo and group work in music, drama, and dance, preparing performers for post-secondary schooling, an advantage in auditions for theatre and musicals, or simply as an elevated high-intensity training program. Professional guest clinicians will lead participants in work on monologues and vocal solos, improvisation, stage combat, various dance styles, theatre tech, ensemble singing and group scene work. The season will be highlighted by performance opportunities and a year-end staged presentation.
- Young Mens’ Ensemble (YME) new in 2018/19, is geared towards young men with changing or changed voices, providing a safe place for boys to explore their new voices with a professional voice pedagogue in a high-energy environment. The gents will sing music from the contemporary popular song book, music theatre, folk and jazz. Guitars, percussion, and the coolest of vocal repertoire make this 90 minute session the highlight of his week!
- shevoce (New in 2018/2019) welcomes vocalists with the strongest skills in vocal performance and musicianship. Along with a mentorship from the professional chamber choir La Movida, the singers will challenge themselves with repertoire spanning Hildegard von Bingen, the Andrew Sisters, the Good Lovelies, and Tegan & Sara. Participation in sheVoce is based on an audition or invitation, and geared towards the oldest singers in the GYS family of choirs.
GYS has released three solo CDs: Bird in the Nest (1998), Wind in Our Sails (2002) and Into the Breeze released on October 30, 2010 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Guelph Youth Singers. GYS has also performed on CDs with Guelph Chamber Choir (On Christmas Night, 1995); for the Canadian Literacy Association (Notable Canadian Choirs Sing Christmas Carols, 1996); with the Guelph folk ensemble, Tamarack (Blankets of Snow, 1998); and singing the title song on the CD Song of Our City: A Musical Celebration of Guelph.
All choirs of GYS perform annually in the Guelph Kiwanis Festival and have distinguished themselves at the Provincial and National levels of the National Festival Association Competition, most recently coming first provincially (Choir III) in the Mrs. J. F. K. English Award and second in the 19 and under and 12 and under classes. GYS has been named by Kiwanis the “best choral program overall” every year since 1996!
The GYS Board of Directors believes it is important to instill a sense of community in our choristers and teach them the importance of giving back to their community by sharing their talents with those who otherwise would not have the opportunity to enjoy their performances. As an annual winter tradition, all GYS choirs sing carols at seniors’ residences in Guelph.
Children who audition for Guelph Youth Singers, but are not accepted into the choir due to remedial vocal problems, are encouraged to pursue a place in the community choir programme offered by the Guelph Youth Music Centre.
GYS tours regularly throughout the province, Canada, and into the northern United States. Past performance highlights include singing for national conventions of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors in Quebec City and Toronto, as well as the American Choral Directors Association in Chicago. GYS has also performed in Montreal, Kingston, New York, British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Other choirs that GYS has performed with have come from Quebec, British Columbia, New York, Alberta, Japan, Slovenia and, of course, Southern Ontario. In May of 2008, Choir III/Chamber choristers were invited to form part of the honour choir, along with choristers from Bach Children’s Chorus, for the “Children in Harmony Festival” at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. As Honour Choir, the combined tour choir had the opportunity to perform for all the other participating choirs of the festival, and in two other public concerts at Disney World. A special 25th Anniversary tour to New York City in May 2016 provided choristers with a wonderful workshop with Broadway Musical Director, Mary-Mitchell Campbell and many sightseeing opportunities. The 2017/18 season provided Choir III & SATB choristers with the exciting opportunity to take part in the Cantando Festival in Whistler, B.C. GYS choristers form life-long friendships and gain invaluable experiences from these joint events.
Continuing with this tradition, each season GYS choristers will take part in youth music festivals in southern Ontario which will include workshops with a guest clinician, and a mass performance with up to nine other children’s choirs.
Auditions are held in the spring and late summer for entrance into the choir in September. Ongoing auditions allow the opportunity for children and youth to enter GYS in January. For more information on Guelph Youth Singers and to book an audition appointment, phone 519- 821-8574.