By Gerry D'Mello, Bendur
Daijiworld Media Network - Canada
Canada, Nov 28: Canadian youth of Mangalorean and Goan origin under the dynamic leadership of Simeon Remedios rocked the stage and claimed 1st place in the sixth "Voices for Christ" Choral competition organized by the Knights of Columbus council 12214 here in Mississauga.
Contrary to the chillness of the Canadian weather, the warmth of the divine Spirit spread through angelic singing thus preparing Christians in and around Mississauga for the joyous feast of Christmas.
The ‘Knights of Columbus’, a Catholic Association having over two million members all over the world, is a Catholic men’s fraternal benefit society that is very popular in North America. It was formed to render financial aid and assistance offered to the sick, disabled, needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works. It is a great vehicle for Catholics to practice their stewardship in parishes and communities.
In order to bring out untapped talents and to spread the sweet fragrance of Christmas joy, Council 12214 of the ‘Knights of Columbus’ affiliated to Cristo Rei Roman Catholic Church, one of the prominent churches in Ontario, organized “Voices for Christ”, a Christmas Carol Singing Competition for the Church Choir groups of Mississauga and Toronto in ‘Cristo Rei’ Church Hall on 18th November 2011 for the sixth successive time. Acclaimed choir groups consisting of talented singers and musicians from different multicultural backgrounds like Canadian, Indian, British, Italian, Polish, Chinese and Filipino participated in this magnificent event.
Ray Bechard, fraternal member of the Knights of Columbus and renowned compere in the city, ably anchored the evening’s program which took off at 7:30 pm. He welcomed the full-house gathering followed by Prayer in Song sung by Salvador Do Mundo choir conducted by Odelia Souza.
The dynamic parish priest of Cristo Rei parish and the Spiritual Director of Knights of Columbus Council 12214 delivered the welcome speech. In his speech, he said that "the Voices for Christ Choral Competition allows members of various choirs to share the gift of music they have received from our Creator; it allows them to make use this God-given talent to make a difference in the lives of the people who find solace and inspiration from music."
Compere Ray Bechard then read out the list of participating choir groups. They were:
‘St Gregory Chamber Ensemble Choir' from St Mary Star of the Sea parish – Director: Fergus Egan T.
‘Youth for Jesus Choir’ from Cristo Rei parish – Director: Semeon Remedios
‘Quo Vadis Choir from St Eugene de Mazenod Mission parish’ – Director: Krzysztof Jedrysik
‘St Anne's Choir from St Ann's Parish in Brampton’- Director: Bob Rocano
'Children's/Youth Choir from Our Lady of the Airways Parish’- Director: Monica Pereira
‘St Martin in the Woodlands Chorale from St Mary Star of the Sea Choir’- Director: Fergus Egan T.
‘Let's carol together' Led by St Anne's Choir, Brampton.
As part of the programme, Ray introduced the judges for the event. The honourable judges for the event were:
Christabel Pinto: Received a B.A. in Music from McMaster University and a B.Ed brom Brock University. She is the winner of the Reginald Bedford Gold Medal and Scholarship. She has won the finalist in the Hamilton Kiwanis festival for three years. Christabel has accompanied and directed church choirs and theatre productions for almost 30 years. She is currently in her 21st year as music director at StoneyCreek United Church and freelances as an accompanist.
Lou D'Amore: Lou D'Amore has sung tenor with many Toronto choirs - Palestrina, Voices, Orpheus, Opera in Concer - just to name a few. He has also performed on stage in may musical productions. His past roles include Sir Lancelot in Camelot, Joe Cable in South Pacific, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing coat, Gaston in Gigi and several others. Currently, Lou teaches vocal music with the TCDSB and he does some vocal coaching.
Florence Pinto: Florence Pinto is a Associate and Licentiate in Pianoforte and Voice holding a Teaching Diploma in Music from Trinity College, London, UK. She has successfully prepared students for Pinoforte and Voice examinations conducted by the Trinity College. Choirs have been an integral part of Pinto's life as a teacher, singer and musician. She was director and conductor of St Xavier's Church adult choir in Pune, India for over 30 years. She also sang I the Contralto section of the Poona Chamber Singers Choir conducted by Veronica Krishnayya.
It was quite visible that every choir had a great preparation for the ‘Voices for Christ-2011’ competition, was very eager and enthusiastic to do their best and as a result, they all gave a great performance.
Soon after the performance by the contestants, the members of KC led by Ray Bechard enriched and engaged the audience with their spell-bound singing of Christmas carols.
The dynamic leader of Knights of Columbus Council #12214 and the incumbent ‘Grand Knight’ Greg Fernandes proposed the vote of thanks wherein he thanked all the sponsors and all those who had worked behind the scenes.
Lou D'Amore, one of the esteemed adjudicators, spoke a few words on behalf of the judges. He had all praise for the choirs and added that the judges found it very difficult as all the choirs pulled off an excellent performance. He expressed his great joy on the youth singing as well.
The main sponsor Maria Leitao w/o former Grand Knight late Peter Leitao awarded the prizes to the winners.
Hats off to the professional and qualified Sound Engineer Rudy D'Souza S/o Vally and Rita D'Souza of Mangalore origin who provided a very modern and perfect sound system for a professional event like 'Voices of Christ'.
The results were as follows:
1st Place – ‘Youth for Jesus’ (They were awarded a Trophy and a cash reward)
1st Runner Up - ‘St Martin In the Woodlands' (They were awarded a cash reward)
2nd Runner Up - ‘St Ann's Choir' (They were awarded a cash reward)
All participants were awarded ‘Participation Certificates’.
The program concluded with the National Anthem ‘O Canada’.