GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. - Christopher Seymore (18), Aidan Barry (13) and Keiran Hamill (12) consider themselves lucky to be able to participate in the Atlantic Boychoir, the only provincial choir of its kind in Canada.
The group, founded by Dr. Jakub Martinec and Jennifer Martinec, includes over 120 boys, aged four to 22, carefully selected from communities all across the province.
Keiran Hamill, 12, attended a performance of the Atlantic Boychoir in March of 2017 and was so impressed that he quickly accepted an invitation to audition at the end of the show.
“We were just blown away by their performance. Before we went, Keiran said that he wasn’t ready to audition or anything, but he changed his mind,” Hamill’s mother, Erika Menchenton explained. “He auditioned right there on the spot and was invited to join right away. We always knew he was a good singer but this was amazing.”
The Exploits Valley Intermediate student has been doing voice lessons and participating in Kiwanis Music Festivals for years. Being part of the Atlantic Boychoir is a natural extension of those experiences.
“It takes a lot of commitment,” Menchenton said. “He practices a lot on his own and then we bring him to Corner Brook to rehearse with the large number of boys who live there. Most Saturdays, we’re on the road by 7 a.m. and we don’t get back home until around 3:30 p.m.”
While the overall pace may be hectic, Hamill is having a lot of fun being part of the Atlantic Boychoir.
“I really enjoy the singing, and being with the other boys,” Hamill said, “and I like going on trips to places.”
Aidan Barry, 13, joined the Atlantic Boychoir just a week or so before the group’s Canada Day concert.
“Aidan did his audition and we thought he would be starting performances in the fall,” Lori Barry, Aidan’s mother, said. “But after one practice they asked him if he thought he could learn the songs and perform with them on Canada Day. So he did.”
Barry, who attends Exploits Valley Intermediate, has always liked to sing and has been doing voice lessons and participating in the Kiwanis Musical Festival for most of his life.
“Singing is something I’ve been doing for a really long time, I just really like it.” Barry said.
Barry’s love of singing has even led him and a friend to start a musical theatre club at school where people could sing and perform.
His mother says that, even as a small child, he loved singing whenever he could.
“I remember, when he was about three, he said ‘Mommy, I know what I want to be when I get older. I think I was born to sing,’” Lori Barry said. “And he has been singing ever since.”
She says she is happy for her son to have this opportunity.
“He is very excited about where it is going to take him. Finally, children who have this kind of love of singing have a way to express it and that’s fantastic,” Lori Barry said. “They can excel at what they love.”
Christopher Seymore, 18, is a recent graduate of Botwood Collegiate who joined the Atlantic Boychoir in October 2016, after he was advised to audition for the group.
“My music teacher, Sheila Hannaford, got a call from one of the patrons of the choir, Maxine Stanley, and she suggested I audition,” Seymore said. “I sent my video audition and got accepted.”
Singing tenor with the Atlantic Boychoir has been a great experience for Seymore.
“Where do I begin? Well, first off, the aspect of a boychoir is unheard of in Newfoundland. And it's such a unique experience singing with boys,” Seymore said. “The traveling with the boychoir is great, but most of all, the friendships and the bonds I have created will last a lifetime, that is a favourite.”
While Seymore has spent a lot of time singing at functions in his community and throughout central, his participation in the Atlantic Boychoir - and the National Boychoir - have created a lot of interesting opportunities for him.
“With the Atlantic Boychoir, I have toured across Newfoundland, we did a tour in Ontario, and a European tour back in December - we toured through Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany,” he said, “I also just got back from a trip with the National Boychoir of Canada to Italy.”