Saskatchewan Choral Federation

Weekend Workshops

2015 Recap:

ChorFest began Saturday morning with a series of Weekend Workshops.  The workshops were specifically designed for choral directors to gain valuable professional development instruction.  Presenters for the Weekend Workshops included Patricia Abbott, Montreal QC; Antiphony, Winnipeg MB; Dinah Helgeson, Vashon Island WA; Scott Leithead, Edmonton AB; Brian Tate, Vancouver BC; Wascana Voices, Regina SK; and Willi Zwozdesky, Vancouver BC.

2015 Program:

Weekend Workshops have been added to provide Saskatchewan directors access to the great clinicians and groups that will be working at, and performing for, ChorFest. 

We have asked these renowned choral directors to each offer their most requested development session in their particular area of expertise.  There's always something new to be learned even if you're an established choral director and this weekend will be the chance to pick up new tips and tricks to help your ensemble sing at their best!

The wealth of information to be shared in these sessions will be of particular interest to emerging choral and vocal ensemble directors and music education students just starting their musical directing careers. 

The Sunday afternoon session with Antiphony and Wascana Voices on developing, rehearsing and maintaining an a cappella ensemble may be of interest to high school students and registration for this or any other session is at the discretion of their choral director.

    Saturday, February 7, 2015

9:00 a



All Music Must Dance - Connecting the Breath and Freeing the Heart (Dinah Helgeson)

We have all the latest strategies and vocal exercises in our back pocket, but how do we apply them?  Letting the breath "Dance" and "Freeing the Heart" are connected.  If we try one without the other, we get a strident tone without any connection.  When we embrace the Heart of the student first, then music has a chance to Dance. 

10:30 a



French Singing Made Easy!  (Patricia Abbott)

The very bilingual Pat Abbott will help you and choir sing in French without fear. Using some of the most-often performed French-language music by French and Canadian composers, Pat will talk about how French pronunciation differs from English and help you to avoid the most common pitfalls of French texts. You are also encouraged to bring French-language scores currently in your program and any questions about them you may have. Pat will also provide useful resources and references so you can perform music in French successfully.

1:00 p



Open Rehearsal with the SK Youth Choir (Stewart Wilkinson)

The Saskatchewan Youth Choir has been established to provide additional opportunities for talented young singers throughout the province to come together and work on quality repertoire under the guidance of an esteemed choral conductor. 

First forming in August 2014, SYC is working on a challenging variety of material including a brand new, 'just for them' setting of Ken Mitchell's poem, 'Missouri Coteau' by Edmonton's Trent Worthington.  The choir will meet for four weekends between August and February and include participation in SMEA's Honour Group program and a Saskatchewan tour as part of their activities.  The 2014-15 programs ends with the Choir's gala concert, 'Music for All' at Optimist ChorFest this evening, Saturday, February 7th.

Biennially, one singer of each voicing from SYC will be eligible to participate in the National Youth Choir.  The next NYC production will be staged in Edmonton in May 2016.

3:00 p


Mid-Winter Energizing! (Scott Leithead)

This session will begin with ideas for vocal technique and warm ups for the developing voice.  We will then teach an African traditional song (or two) and relate many of the concepts learned through this wonderful cultural music to the development of good healthy singing - from internalizing rhythm to posture, movement and achieving a beautiful tone.    Cultural ideas and performance practices will also be shared. 

    Sunday, February 8, 2015

1:00 p



Building an A Cappella Group from A to Z (TBC) (Antiphony & Wascana Voices)

How does a group get started?  What are the rewards (& perils & pitfalls & . . .)?  How do you choose rep, decide on arrangements, self-direct?  Join Antiphony for answers to these questions and more as they share back-stage secrets and insights into the world of a self-directed a cappella group. 

During their 90-minute session, Antiphony will also be working with Regina's newest a cappella ensemble, Wascana Voices.  Be part of the creative process as they prep a new piece of music for performance that afternoon.  If you want to start a group or you have students who would like to form an ensemble, this is the session for you (and them!).

2:30 p



Conducting Masterclass (Willi Zwozdesky)

Interested for some one-on-one conducting skills improvement?  Be one of six directors chosen to work with Willi Zwozdesky and the lab choir in this interactive conducting masterclass.  Learn Willi's secrets for improving an ensemble's performance that he has mastered through years of directing ensembles of every size, shape and skill level.

Not so sure you're ready to try out your conducting skills in front of a crowd?  Be part of the audience and focus on listening.  You'll gain valuable insights as you watch conductors of all experience levels improve their skills and self-confidence in front of a live choir.

4:00 p



World Music (Brian Tate)

Much of today's contemporary choral music features exciting African, Latin, and jazz repertoire. Brian presents rhythms, chants, and songs from African and Afro-Cuban traditions in a lively, hands-on workshop will give you and your singers a solid foundation in getting a groove happening in your choir. You’ll learn polyrhythms, syncopations, movement, how to use your voice as a rhythm instrument, and how to learn through the oral tradition. Easy-to-learn rhythms and songs will help your choir listen better, loosen up, and become a tighter ensemble. A guaranteed good time! For all ages and levels.


Weekend Workshop pass* (all sessions) - $100 ($50 for full-time students)

Weekend Workshop voucher (one session) - $30 ($15 for full-time students)

* must be an SCF member or a director of an SCF member choir to be eligible for the 'weekend workshop pass' rate.