Ella Latta Suazo is a singer-songwriter, a student in the community music program at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the assistant conductor of the Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir.
During the pandemic lockdowns, this choir has connected online with eight other children’s choirs in India, South Africa, Scotland, Germany and the United States. The project is called Children’s Choirs Connecting.
“Each choir takes a turn, teaching us music of a celebration in their culture,” said Andrea deBoer-Jones, conductor of the Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir and the organizer of this project.
On Sunday, local children will share photos and videos of themselves playing in the snow, and the online group will sing Latta Suazo’s “Winter Canon” together, using Latta Suazo’s recording as a guide.
The children joining from abroad will be from such far-flung places as the Cape Town Children’s Choir in South Africa; the Singing Tree children’s choir in Mumbai, India; the Glasgow Youth Choir in Scotland; and Young Voices of Colorado in the United States.
“I’m really excited to have my song sung by kids around the world in this workshop,” said Latta Suazo.
“It’s also very special to have it be a musical representation of our Canadian winters, and to help show kids in places without snow what we like to do in the snowy weather. This opportunity to connect children across the globe is so unique, and a huge positive to learning how to build community online.”
“Winter Canon” is a round, in which a musical line or verse is repeatedly sung at different times by different voices (think of “Row, row, row your boat”).
The song recalls snowflakes softly falling, and hot chocolate to share. On Sunday, a recording made by Latta Suazo will be played and each child will join in from home.
During the pandemic, choirs everywhere have had difficulty rehearsing and performing in person. The Grand Philharmonic youth, children’s and adult choirs have responded by reaching out online to make connections with other choirs across Canada and around the world.
DeBoer-Jones said it’s a great experience for children to experience music from around the world. They also get to meet and chat with young singers worldwide, talking about choir and everyday life in their country.
“It has been an amazing experience and we’re hoping to do it next year,” said deBoer-Jones.
“The great thing is that the conductors (who have also never met), are now great friends and have choirs to exchange or visit with for the future! More collaboration!”