WHS Chamber Ensemble headed to nationals

by | Jun 19, 2024

Group sees success in inaugural year

This small musical group is doing big things at Woodstock High School. The school’s Chamber Ensemble finished its inaugural year with a series of successes, including an invitation to compete at the 2024 Canadian National Music Festival.

WHS Music teacher and ensemble director Will Davidson said the group initially formed as part of the curriculum requirements during a first-semester senior music class. However, the students enjoyed performing together so much that they asked if they could continue as an extracurricular group. Davidson happily obliged.

The group consists of Kiara Hoyos on cello, Bryle (Rylee) Tan on clarinet, and Thomas Hanson on trumpet.

In April, they competed at the local Carleton County Music Festival, where they were awarded gold and invited to compete at the New Brunswick Music Festival.

The group travelled to Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., on May 28 for the provincial festival, where they earned a silver medal and an invitation to compete at the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals (FCMF) National Music Festival in July.

The group will record their performance and submit it electronically for adjudication, which will begin July 11, 2024.

“We were all very surprised, honestly,” said Hanson. “I was vibrating with excitement, and Rylee’s eyes and mouth opened wide in shock. We were all really proud of ourselves, though.”

All have been studying music privately for a few years. Tan said that he got his start in music when he was twelve and still living in the Philippines.

“I was inspired by a YouTube channel called TwoSet Violin. They make funny content that educates about classical music. I ended up asking my mom if I could learn to play,” he said. While he started on the violin, he now plays numerous woodwind and string instruments and sings.

Hoyos started her music journey five years ago while living in Argentina through piano lessons. Over the years, she has also learned to play the cello, bass, and guitar. Like Tan, she also sings; both participate in the WHS Choir. Hanson started playing the trumpet seven years ago. He now plays multiple brass instruments, including the tuba, baritone horn, and euphonium. He also enjoys composing.

When asked if they expect music to continue to be a part of their future, the answer was a resounding yes for all three. Beyond continuing to perform with the WHS Jazz Band and Chamber Ensemble, both Tan and Hanson plan to audition for Mt. Allison University’s Bachelor of Music program this fall.

“I will definitely continue in some way, even if it’s not my main area of study,” said Hoyos, noting she will likely minor in music in university.

The Woodstock High School Chamber Ensemble, from left, is Thomas Hanson on trumpet, Bryle (Rylee) Tan on clarinet, and Kiara Hoyos on cello. (Sandra Hanson photo)

Davidson said he enjoyed watching the group mature throughout the year.

“They have become increasingly self-sufficient and have really developed positive group habits,” the teacher said, explaining that in professional chamber ensembles, there is no conductor but rather a player who leads the group. This was a challenge for the students who had also been performing with the WHS Jazz Band and were used to being led by Davidson.

Their performance at Provincials was their first time playing without a conductor – and Davidson said they rose to the challenge.

“They conduct themselves like a true chamber ensemble now,” said Davidson. “They’ve assumed the role well.”

This is the first time WHS has had an instrumental group be invited to compete at either the provincial or national level. The students look forward to hearing the results of their adjudication at the FCMF Nationals next month.  

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