Shawn Goff photo/Telegraph Journal

Teens nab awards at Founders' Night concert

by Shawn Goff - Monday, May 2, 2016

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

SAINT JOHN • Two young musicians won festival star awards for their vocals and violin skills at Saturday's Founders' Night gala concert, but one of them didn't think they would win at all.

Seventeen-year-old vocalist Monet Comeau won the Intermediate Festival Star award but she said she was shocked to receive it. "I was just like, really excited. But I just didn't want to mess up," Comeau said."I thought one of the other people would win."

The Saint John High School student has been singing in the New Brunswick Competitive Festival of Music since she was five. She now wants to be a professional Broadway performer. "Next year I'm going to Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts to pursue musical theatre," Comeau said. "I'm really, really, really excited."She says that when she is on stage singing, it feels"liberating." "When I'm up there everything else goes away, it's just about giving a performance."

The Senior Festival Star award-winning violinist Sienna Cho started playing violin when she was nine. She said that when she plays, she doesn't even remember what happened. "I just get so caught up in the moment that when I'm done I just forget about it,"she said.

Cho was a concertmaster in the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and has played in Symphony New Brunswick. She just finished her first year at Mc-Gill University but never stops practicing. "I don't have a lot of classes, so in my spare time I just practise,"she said."I'm not good at anything else but violin." While she enjoyed receiving the Senior Festival Star award, she's "glad it's over." "It would be a lie to say it wasn't stressful," Cho said. "I'm just happy to have nothing now, until the provincials."

First runners-up for the intermediate and senior star awards were pianist Jasmine Yu and flutist Naomi Ford. Another big winner at the event was the Hillsong choir from Forest Hills School. Jeremy Goguen, the choir's instructor,said that most kids can perform at a competitive level,"it just takes time.""I set a high standard for the kids in the classroom and that carries to the choir rehearsals,"Goguen said."It's just a matter of having high expectations and they will follow through on them."

Goguen was previously a guitar teacher at Long and Mcquade. He went to Cambrian College, Mount Allison University and St. Thomas University before teaching at Forest Hills School."I knew that I wanted to be a teacher for a long time,"Goguen said."There happened to be a music position the year I was graduating. I applied for it and I got it."

Meanwhile, the Sistema program's symphony and string orchestra were both awarded Saturday. Aaron Mc-Farlane, centre director for Sistema Saint John, said that Founders'Night is about students seeing their hard work pay off. "That payoff is the opportunity to play for a big audience," McFarlane said.The Sistema program is a free, daily after-school music program associated with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, where children learn to play an instrument and"achieve their full potential."

McFarlane said that with the donations Sistema receives, the music that kids in the program play is about "giving back the gift of beautiful music to their community." "It's their way of people able to say thank you, and also to receive the recognition and the praise from having worked hard and done well," McFarlane said. He also said that it's not about the kids being the best, it's about bettering themselves.

"In the Olympics you always have three clocks. Olympic record, world record and personal best. I always talk to the kids about ... you don't need to focus on those first two," McFarlane said. "You need to focus on your personal best every time. When you perform in public, you want it to be your very best that you can do."

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