"Kiwanis festival performers headed to National Music Championships"
Kiwanis festival performers headed to National Music Championships June 15, 2007 Stratford singer Drew Santini, the St. Marys Children's Choir and a piano trio from Tara are headed to the National Music Competitions in Moncton N.B later this summer after winning at the recent Provincial Championships in London. They were among 18 performers from the Kiwanis Festival of the Performing Arts Stratford to win awards at the provincial level. Thirty-six performers who won top honours in Stratford competed at the provincials. "It's a very gratifying result," said Michele Boniface, local director of competition. "Our participants were chosen by adjudicators at our own festival, so obviously they showed promise. But for so many to be recognized among the best in the province clearly demonstrates the calibre of talent we have here." Mr. Santini won the prestigious open voice competition. He will join five other open-level soloists (strings, piano, brass, winds and guitar) to represent Ontario at the nationals. According to adjudicator Leslie Fagan, Drew has "the complete package" with "sensitive and beautiful singing" and "great pronunciation and diction." Drew is currently studying voice at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. The piano trio Hammers and Bows from Tara won the chamber group competition for Stratford. Renee Kruisselbrink (piano), Laurissa Chitty (violin) and Lorna Heidt (cello) will also represent Ontario in Moncton. The three currently study music at Wilfrid Laurier University. For the 10th year running, the St. Marys Children's Choir will represent Ontario at the nationals. The youngest children's choir singers have been extremely successful at National Championships in recent years.. Other performers received top honours at the event sponsored by the University of Western Ontario, but will have to wait their turn for National Championships. "Nationals are reserved for open-level champions," said Ms. Boniface. "We have many talented performers who are poised to move up to that esteemed top level -- it bodes well for our future." Stratford's Eliza Johnson won top spot in diploma voice. Ms. Fagan commended Eliza for her "stunning singing" saying she has "beautiful colour" in her voice. Eliza plans to study music at the University of Toronto next year. Janelle Murray of Seaforth earned two honourable mentions, one for Grade 7 voice and another for intermediate musical theatre. In the piano competition Ryan Faulkner, who hails from Toronto but studies in Stratford, was runner up in diploma piano. "In the playoffs, he dazzled the crowd with his innovative rendition of a notoriously challenging piece, Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor," said Ms. Boniface. Connor O'Kane of Waterloo was runner up in Grade 7 piano and honorable mentions went to two other Waterloo pianists representing Stratford: Sarah Bott Grade 7 and David Mamujee Grade 9. In the speech arts competition, Olivia Steven of Stratford was runner up among juniors and Nora Smith of St. Marys was runner up among seniors. Meredith Koehler of Wellesley received honourable mention at the senior level. In Grade 9 brass, Teri Fralick of Stratford earned honourable mention for her trumpet recital, as did Stephen Chard of Dorchester for his euphonium performance. "I was proud of all our performers," said Ms. Boniface. "I knew that just taking part would be a reward enough. In addition to performing beautifully for their peers, after each competition they took part in master classes offered by highly acclaimed adjudicators."