Musicians Mira Engelbrcht (16)

Belmont secondary Winter Concert a finale of sorts

High school musicians invite community in for Christmas cheer

The feeling is bittersweet.

Days away from the Belmont secondary Winter Concert, school music director Mandart Chan is looking forward to see and hear more than 120 student-musicians perform in front of friends and family on Dec. 11. He gets emotional, however, that the community concert series that started in the early 1950s will see its last show ever at the current school.

“(Being the) last winter concert in the original Belmont building, that, for us, is a big thing,” Chan said. “Even though we are planning it as if it is just our usual concerts. This is the last time we’re setting up the decorations, with the lights and sound systems and everything else. This is the last time we get to do it (here).”

Seven performance ensembles and four student bands have been practicing diligently for the last concert of 2014, during which an estimated 400-plus spectators will pack the Spotswood Gym. Coming to school early, during lunch, and after school to make the experience a rewarding one for all involved, Chan said their effort has been commendable.

“(The best part of this), the parents see the aftermath of what they are doing, see the result of all their hard work,” he said. “Knowing (parents) see the value in music education, not only at Belmont but in our community, is really important.”

Grade 12 saxophonist Ai Horton, playing her final Winter Concert ever as a member of the 2015 graduation class, started playing music in Grade 2 and hopes the public enjoys the hard work she and her peers have put in.

“For people in the community, it’s so cool to see what students that are living in their communities are doing and what they have been working towards,” she said.

The 17-year-old said music has played an important role in her life, helping her break out from being shy and introducing her to great friends, great music and great memories. She hopes to offer some of those gifts to others.

“A lot of the time, because we are high school, (the public) don’t expect a lot from (us), but that is the biggest myth,” Chan said.

“If the walls (at the gym) could talk, they would remember every concert we did in here. I hope people remember all the determination and hard work we put towards this.”

The Belmont Winter Concert happens next Thursday at 7 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com