Choirs band together for WorldBeat festival

Renowned conductor Henry Leck featured as guest clinician.

Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter

A man described as “one of the most renowned children’s choir conductors” will be a guest clinician at WorldBeat 2015, a weekend-long festival hosted by the White Rock Children’s Choir.

Set for April 23-26, WorldBeat 2015 is to culminate with a mass-choir performance conducted by Henry Leck at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre.

“It is a big thing in our community,” choir director Sarona Mynhardt said of the festival and Leck’s participation.

Leck is the artistic director and founder of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, which started 29 years ago with about 30 children and now boasts 2,000 children and 17 conductors. Mynhardt met Leck in 1999, two years after she started the WRCC. In the years since, they have collaborated on international performances on several occasions – taking choirs as far as South Africa. Last year, they performed in Carnegie Hall.

“I love having my kids work with him,” Mynhardt said. “Because it’s not about him. He’s an extremely humble man. He truly loves and respects every conductor and every singer he works with.

“We both believe true love and respect has to come from you first. We don’t demand. It’s truly earned, whatever you get back from kids.”

Mynhardt said she put the word out about WorldBeat 2015 a year ago and response was swift. Within 24 hours, 350 kids from 10 choir organizations were registered, “and it’s because of (Leck).”

The festival is to include a conductor/music teacher workshop on April 23, as well as opportunities for individual choirs to work with Leck.

The April 26 performance is open to the public and will mark Leck’s first time conducting in the Orpheum.

Mynhardt said the opportunity to perform as part of a mass choir is an amazing experience for the young singers, who bring a wide variety of voices.

“In a mass choir, everybody is mixed up. They become one choir,” she said. “It really gives kids this whole idea they’re not the only choir around.”

Mynhardt’s daughter, Maderi, is manager for WorldBeat 2015. She began working with the WRCC full-time in September, after realizing restaurant management “is just not for me.”

The 27-year-old – who holds a tri-discipline musical theatre diploma – also works with all of the WRCC choirs and teaches musical theatre privately.

“Moving back is not moving backwards,” she said, referring to the return to her first passion.

“I’m moving forward by leaps and bounds.”

Tickets, $22, are available through www.whiterockchildrenschoir.com or @ticketstonight.ca

Music teachers and conductors interested in the April 23 conductors’ workshop – to be held at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in White Rock – may sign up or get more information through the B.C. Choral Federation, at www.bcchoralfed.com