“What an amazing amount of talent we have here.”
If you were one of the lucky ones to get a seat in the Homburg Theatre for last Saturday’s sold-out P.E.I. Home and School Federation 60th anniversary Celebration Concert, it is a safe bet that you would have come away from the show thinking this — much the same as surely most everyone who was in attendance did.
In an evening, appropriately titled Putting Children First, the P.E.I. Home and School Federation produced an epic presentation of creative talent from all ages — showcasing music, theatre, writing, comedy, dance and art, all in one massive smorgasbord of entertainment at Confederation Centre of the Arts.
And with the talk of “putting children first,” it really did walk-the-walk on this one, too, as the concert began with one of the most lovable children’s choirs I have ever seen.
Singing a piece by David Foster, Carole Bayer-Sager and Richard Page called Thankful, the clad-all-in-white 18-member Gulf Shore Elementary School Choir (led by Kirsten MacLaine with Matthew MacLaine at the piano) set the tone dial at emotional and teary right away, passionately singing:
“It’s up to us to be the change, and even though we all can still do more, there’s so much to be thankful for.”
A more fitting introduction for the evening could not have been dreamed.
As for the unfolding of the rest of the night, I would basically need an article the length of this entire newspaper page in order to even be able to mention everyone included in all of the concert’s 25 different acts, let alone describe details.
We were treated to performances by so many dedicated and hardworking choirs of the Island, including Glen Stewart Primary Choir (another completely adorable children’s choir), Three Oaks Choral Ensemble, Montague Senior High Choir, Le Regazze, Athena Consolidated Vocal Ensemble, Teachers in Harmony Choir and Lori Linkletter’s AKKORD ensemble.
We were entertained by great solo, duo and small group acts like Joey and Julien Kitson (as 11-year-old Julien awed the crowd in a solo performance of Heart of Gold, playing harmonica, guitar and singing), UPEI percussionist Branden Kelly on marimbas, Celia Koughan’s impressive Big Yellow Taxi and Red Hands with Olivia King, Hilary Campbell and Alex Kahn, Angèle, Kristen and Ryan Rix, Julia MacVicar, Tessa Hood, Natalie Sullivan, Hannah Rollwage and Melissa MacKenzie (who blended together in absolutely luscious harmony as one of the supreme highlights of the night); Michael Pendergast’s emotive One Little Boat and John MacPhee’s crowd sing-along solo rock out of Travelling.
There was even some spoken word entertainment with an original literary piece by student Autumn Banks, along with comedy by the Bluefield and Three Oaks improv groups and the incomparable Patrick Ledwell, who almost had people rolling in the aisles.
And with sensational performances by Cynthia MacLeod with Mark Rooney, the Havenwood Stepdancers, and the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble, it was truly a remarkable outpouring of variety-filled entertainment.
As bouquets of flowers were handed out near the end of the concert in recognition of efforts — not only for the night’s co-ordination, but for long-term service for P.E.I. Home and School — executive director Shirley Jay was commended for her over 30 years of service to the federation and summed things up perfectly with just one short statement:
“There’s so much more to be done. And we make great kids, don’t we?”
All in all, the anniversary Celebration Concert was definitely an exceptional display of the abounding talent — younger and older — that exists here in our creatively-saturated province.
And for the now 60-years-strong P.E.I. Home and School, the evening was indeed a clear representation of the creative ability that can be encouraged and fostered when one succeeds, as the federation has, in “putting children first.”
Next week: I'll be checking out one of the great community hall shows going on around the Island this weekend.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at email@example.com or at 626-1242.
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