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

Salmon fishing closures won’t save the whales, say critics

Federal government accused of going after salmon fishery as ‘low hanging fruit’

Greater Victoria has Canada’s sixth-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions and reduces mobility, researcher says

Teams finalized in last push before Pan Am Cross Country Championships

The competition is taking place at Bear Mountain Resort in Langford on Feb. 29

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

Fashion Fridays: The 8 best quality online stores! Shop the ultimate sales

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Shopping cart collector at B.C. Costco awarded $583,000 after getting pinned by car

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when a driver backed into him in the parking lot

‘Usain Bolt he was not’: B.C. gang police seize drugs, cash after foot chase

‘The man took off running when he saw our officers approaching,’ CFSEU BC says

Canadians released from coronavirus-ridden cruise ship in Japan fly home

Those who were cleared to travel are to be screened again at Canadian Forces Base Trenton

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Trudeau promises update on blockades as Wet’suwet’en chiefs meet Mohawk supporters

B.C. hereditary chiefs are thanking the Mohawks for supporting them in opposition to Coastal GasLink

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Most Read