Grade 8 singer Dylan Matthews leads the Arbutus student choir in Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. (Screenshot/Youtube)

Arbutus choir captures hearts with ‘Hallelujah’ rendition

Choir produces powerful piece for national music competition

Students in the Arbutus Global middle school music program are back with another high-end performance for a national music competition.

Arbutus students released on Thursday a moving rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, a choral arrangement that serves justice to a song millions consider sacred. It’s even more powerful than their last, a winning version of the Olympic theme song that aired during broadcasts of the 2018 Games in PyeongChang as part of the CBC Music Class Challenge.

Read More: Arbutus, Campus View orchestras air on CBC Olympic broadcast

Read More: Saanich students enjoy the sound of success

“Having won last year we wanted to do something again,” said Arbutus music teacher Michael Mazza, who created the arrangement.

It has been well received by friends, family and the community since CBC posted it to their YouTube channel on Thursday. As of Monday it already had 4,300 views.

Choosing Hallelujah wasn’t easy. The competition has grown, and so has the list of the songs that students can choose from. There were 22 to pick from including classics such as Takin’ Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell, and contemporary hits, Stay by Alessia Cara, and Giants by Lights.

“I gravitated towards Hallelujah, partly to pay respect to [Cohen], and because I thought the kids could do it justice,” Mazza said.

The performance opens with Jasmine Yu (Grade 8) plucking her violin, known as pizzicato, and Patrick Huang (Grade 8) playing the familiar refrain on the piano. Playing off of them is the soft claps of the 100-plus choir of students from Grades 6 to 8.

Lead vocalist Dylan Matthews, also in Grade 8, starts confidently but calmly. The choir soon jumps in for a unique, fitting and highly moving version of the legendary song. Guitarist Alexander Gwillim (Grade 8) leads the second verse, as the song adds layer upon layer towards a big finish.

The arrangement was all part of a fluid process. Selling it to the students was easy, as they are all aware of the contest after winning it last year, Mazza said.

“It started with Dylan [Matthews], to see if he could sing it, sure enough he nailed it right away,” Mazza said. “It’s not like I had it figured out at the beginning. Jasmine had the idea to play pizzicato at the beginning.”

Matthews is the type of kid who has his guitar on his back as he wanders the school. “Any opportunity to sing and play, he’ll take it,” Mazza said.

At each early rehearsal, Mazza would add things, or take things away until it was something they all liked. Fellow music teacher Jennifer Hill helped too.

“It just came together, they have a lot of passion,” Mazza said. “The [positive] reaction from the public is surprising, it just goes to show you middle school students shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m super proud of them.”

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sewage installation to delay drivers along Sooke Road until early September

Construction starts Monday, August 10 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Langford boy wakes up from surgery to find stuffed puppy wearing the same cast

Hospital staff outfitted ‘Eddy’ the puppy to match the young patient

VIDEO: Annual artist studio tour goes virtual on Saanich Peninsula

ArtSea converts popular event to online format with personalized artist videos

Local Flavour: Youth take the lead in Victoria’s Pollinator Leadership Team

Guest writer Thompson Hygge, summer intern with Pollinator Partnership Canada

Flyover at B.C. Leg to commemorate National Peacekeepers’ Day

August 9 marks biggest single day loss of Canadian lives from peace operations

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read