As festival season ends in Canada, the Cariboo Festival Society was proud to see two of its attendees recognized for their work on the provincial stage this year.
Every year the Cariboo Festival Society holds a competition that gives young performing artists in and around the lakecity a chance to showcase their skills and talents to the wider community. Adjudicators are brought in and judge the performances, with the best being selected to go on to the provincial championships.
Angela Sommer, the owner and operator of Angelkeys Music Studio, is an active member of the festival and teaches many of the children who take part in it every year. For 2019, she ended up taking seven of her vocal students to the provincial competition held this year in Chilliwack from May 26-30.
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Overall, she felt her students all did really well with the group enjoying a fun weekend of performances, music and other activities. One of her students, Cassius Ford, ended up placing first in junior musical theatre while another, Eloise Hobi, received an honourable mention in junior vocal variety. Both Ford and Hobi were competing at provincials for the first time.
Ford and one of the other musical theatre performers, Isaac Shoults, both received a scholarship to the Gotta Sing Gotta Dance summer musical theatre school located in Vancouver.
“Overall, everyone that went just did their best while we were there so it was a really positive and good experience this year,” Sommer said. “I think they outdid themselves this year, they were absolutely fantastic.”
Including Ford, Hobi and Shoults, the society sent Cooper Amos, Georgia DiMarco, Bethany Nairn, Lauryn Marklinger, Olivia Rowse, Natasha Castro and Kiera Shewchuk.
making the delegation a team of roughly 25 parents and children. Sommer observed this meant every single lakecity performance had a “cheering section” sitting in the crowd.
Sommer wanted to thank everybody who took part in the festival this year for all their hard work, on both the performer and organizer side of things. It’s thanks to the wellspring of support for the arts here that allows these children to flourish and grow their skills, she said.
Ford said he’s liked to sing for his entire life so far, adding his parents have always said every day he’d wake up singing even if it was just quiet humming. Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut Ford has spent most of his life in Williams Lake and currently attends Cataline Elementary School, though he can’t wait to get to Grade 7 to spend more time with his older friends.
When he first started music lessons with Sommer, Ford was on the piano but over time was encouraged to use his voice more. Three years ago he first started singing for the Cariboo Festival and transitioned this year into the musical theatre category.
At provincials this year he performed two songs: Where Is Love from Oliver and I Like It from A Bronx Tale whose performance snagged him first in his category. Ford said he selected I Like It after last year’s festival immediately after his dad, Chris Ford, played it for him due to its upbeat and showman like nature. Where Is Love was selected to compliment I Like It due to its slower and more toned down nature and Ford being able to put himself in the character’s shoes.
“I like competing against other people because there’s a lot of good competition here,” Ford remarked.
Ford was really surprised to be selected to go to provincials this year which made him really happy. Prior to his performance, he said he was a bit scared but afterwards he found that he really liked it, adding that his rendition of Where Is Love nearly made people cry while I Like It brought smiles to people’s faces.
While he was excited to receive the scholarship, Ford won’t be attending the camp until next year due to a busy schedule this summer, though he said he’s really looking forward to having a lot of fun there. As far as the Cariboo Festival goes, Ford declared he intends to continue to compete until he can’t anymore.
“It’s just really fun, everyone has a good time, they just love being there,” Ford said.
Hobi, a young immigrant from Switzerland, said she’s been a student of Sommer for the last several years, almost as long as she’s been a resident of Canada. From her, she’s learned all types of music including opera, jazz, classic, theatre and pop, which she said is really cool to do.
“I like the different languages in it, the music’s beat and I especially like doing it with my teacher. It’s a lot of learning and work but I enjoy it a lot,” Hobi said.
She starting competing in the festival a few years ago, at first just for fun, but increasingly recently for the competitive aspect of the event. This year Hobi sang three classical pieces including one in German, French and of course English. She also took part in musical theatre with What It Means to be a Friend and Quiet, jazz with Forty Little Birdies and an opera song.
Going to provincials this year was a big surprise for Hobi, as while she did beat Ford for classical voice, neither she nor Sommer thought she’d never be selected to go to Provincials for classics due to her age. When she was selected, however, she was really happy she remarked with an excited giggle.
“I was very nervous, I have to say, there were 15-year-olds there and they were really good, I’m 12,” Hobi said. “Once I started singing I was fine.”
Being recognized for her performance of Quiet in vocal variety was another welcome surprise for Hobi, which made her proud for both herself, her teacher Sommer and her mother. Despite the friendly rivalry between them, Hobi said she was really glad Ford got first place adding that Sommer and her students are like a “musical family.”
Hobi plans to never give up on music and intends to return to the compete in the Cariboo Festival again next year. Ford, Hobi and other festival competitors will be performing at this year’s Pops in the Park on Sunday June 16.