On Tour

Guelph Day 5: In Pictures

Today was full of variety. We began at Trius Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake before experiencing the butterflies (and snakes!!) at the Butterfly Conservatory and then wrapped things up with an awesome evening with Ladysmith Black Mambazo – including singing impromptu with members of the group in the lobby post-show (video on that to follow):

 

Guelph Day 5 Part 2: Many highlights!

Woke up from my cat nap to the sound of Darryl filling us in about the geography of the Niagara region- how the escarpment keeps the temperatures hot and dry in the summer, how the region is fertile land that supports orchards and now vineyards, how the locks enable the ships to go between the great lakes.

We pulled into Trius winery, which is owned by Peller Estates- used to be Hillebrand winery. It is ASTOUNDING how many notable wineries are here- and so many we don’t know about because we can’t get them in BC. Wayne Gretsky’s winery was next door, and Dan Akroyd’s was the other side! Same story as our Okanagan: what used to be peach orchards are now wineries. Vines as far as your eyes can see. (It’s flatter here!)

Our Trius guide was a good sport about treating the kids like any other wine taster, so they quickly got the message that there is a real art and science to wine making. And luck, experience and instinct too! As A.R. said, “It’s like us in choir- if one person does something differently, the whole thing is changed.” The kids saw the grand barrel room- like a medieval gathering room; the pressing room; the sparkling wine making area (just don’t call it “Champagne”!). That was really interesting actually- the kids can fill you in about the science of it all. Fascinating stuff. We then went to the tasting room. Trius is a scenic winery with lovely buildings, an award-winning restaurant and areas for summer time concerts. In the tasting room, we adults got the giggles observing how our “kids” immediately turned into debonair and aristocratic types the second they got wine glasses in their hands! With some kind of peach lemonade in the glass, our guide Patrick talked them through how to hold the glass, how to swirl to “open up the flavour”; how to sniff; how to “inverse whistle” to taste… They will all be ready to impress when they turn 19. We sang in Italian, with our wine glasses in hand, for the staff there. Very fun.

Back on the bus and down the road to Fort George, an important arena during the war of 1812. Normally at this time of year, the place is not open for tours, but thanks to Shelley at Ellison Tours, she pulled strings to have it open for us and we must have got the BEST interpreter imaginable. Pete met us in full-on 1812 British Army uniform, with a vintage musket. He spoke faster than a mile a minute, and kept us spellbound for more than 2 hours of lecture about the war, peppered with humour, lots of facts and acting and antics. Even some pretty good fife playing too. If only all our Social Studies classes were this engaging… Pete just said “naw, it’s just ’cause I have a gun in my hand that they pay attention”. I don’t think so- he was a master presenter/ actor/ historian/ comedian. Anyway, we ate lunch in the soldiers barracks, found out about family life living in the barracks versus the life of an officer- we had some time in that building too too. Pete had us splitting a gut as he used his bayonet as a pointer and acted out various characters from the war of 1812. The grand finale for the afternoon was watching as Pete demonstrated the “rapid firing” of the musket. Your singer can explain the difference between a musket and a rifle… and why rifles developed.

We drove along the Niagara River, on a scenic road that followed the river bank/ gorge, with New York State across on the other side. The HOUSES along this route were like castles. And we quickly saw the home of Laura Secord as we drove by. My mom will want me to mention that she is in fact a relative of mine- some family tree can attest to that tidbit.

By then it was about 3:30pm, and we had an hour to spend in the Butterfly Conservatory. I have to admit, when we were planning this musical tour, and we were being booked to go here, I was skeptical- I figured it would be humid and tourist trappy. Instead, it was like an hour of pure awe and wonder- of that “wow” feeling we often need to channel when singing- as butterflies dive bombed us, sneakily landed on our backs and bums, and kept us marveling with wide eyes and grins. Before we could actually enter the butterfly area though, we had a short visit in an exhibit called “Venom”. Yes. Snakes. Big freaky snakes. I hate snakes. Long story… let’s just say I was quietly flipping out inside, and not able to go into the exhibit. Then along comes this guy Kevin, who is touring around with the exhibit as a snake expert from the Ottawa Zoo… and he has this “baby” 9 foot long BOA CONSTRICTOR (!!!!!) named “Moglie” wrapped around him. Deep breath. He drapes it all over this cabinet, and our kids flock around patting the snake and listening to Kevin talk about there not being any POISONOUS snakes… all about the difference between poisons and venom. Fascinating. Except this snake head is going all over the place and the thing won’t stop moving. And kids are happily patting it. Then comes the question I’ve been dreading: “Did you touch the snake? You have to pat it!” And I realized that all week, I’ve been not so gently encouraging kids to try new things, to step out of their comfort zones, to breathe through their fears and get past that feeling… and there I was being encouraged by one of them to touch this snake. What could I do? GAAAAAAAAAaaaaaa. I still can’t get the feeling of “snake” off my fingers, but I did it. I touched the snake. I can’t call it a “pat”. There was nothing loving about it- definitely a “touch”. It was kinda oily. By this time, Kevin had found out that we are a choir, and he said he’d LOVE to hear us sing to the snake. What the heck do you sing for a big fat shiny long SNAKE?! (ok, after a while, it’s face and head bobbing all around did begin to look cute to me.) I figured something nature-y for a snake song. So we sang Beauty of the Trees. I KID YOU NOT: Moglie the snake got very calm, stretched out long and lay its wee head down and was motionless for the duration of the song. It was woo woo freaky how Moglie instantly seemed to connect with the sound around him. And us to him- even I was singing- we all were- Guelph kids too- surrounded the snake and singing to him while he calmly listened. By the end of the experience, Kevin was amazed and goose bumpy- literally. He’s appearing on Breakfast TV in Toronto in the morning, and will be wearing one of our Shine buttons as a shout out to us.

Finally, we saw Niagara Falls- the US side- at dusk, and arrived at Ruby Tuesdays in downtown Niagara Falls touristville in time for a quick dinner. We’d already pre ordered so the food was good and fast. I looked around and just took it in: our kids were all sitting around and eating and chatting happily like mature and civilized people. I don’t know why I was surprised or amazed…. I shouldn’t be. But I did have this overwhelming feeling of “I’d be proud to take these kids any where in the world.” I need to tell you too, that every where we go, strangers ask about the group and comment on their manners and their deportment. Truly.

Back on the bus and a 40 minute ride to Brock University. Off the bus and into the theatre for the Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert! Whooooooo! A packed theatre, but it was a really small venue- maybe 300 seats? so it was a pretty intimate setting to see them. They’ve been a group for 53 years! And they all can still do those high kicks above their heads. Singers LOVED the group. And at the end of the night, we went up to meet them and get a few CDs signed… and posed for a photo with 3 members of the group (2 are Joseph Shambalala’s sons who sing lead in the group at times)… and they started singing Tshosholoza… we knew that a bit and fumbled along ’cause Youth Choir men sing it- and some GYS singers knew it. But then we started singing Amavolovolo and they immediately joined in! There were were, singing with LBM! People in the crowd had video going and were amazed that this group of KIDS was suddenly singing along and inspiring dancing from LBM. Music really does build bridges between strangers from all lands, and here tonight, we proved that to be true, once again.

What a perfect day.

I think singers are all asleep in their hotel rooms now- everything is quiet so I will hit the hay too. Tomorrow we tour Niagara Falls!!!! Oooh I forgot- we have a full hour formal concert in the morning first, THEN Niagara Falls.

Cheers!

Guelph Day 5 Part 1: Enroute to Niagara Region

Kids are looking more refreshed this morning! And all but 2 of them have clued in that we aren’t letting up on them having their hair back every day… so this morning we were greeted by glowing faces and some beautiful braided bangs and buns- our older female singers are sure looking classy. Our founding artistic director, Donna Otto, would be proud of how we are carrying on her tradition but with a twist so that singers can have some say in their hairstyles.

There is a lot of heavy snow so the sights around Guelph this morning are postcard perfect: Victorian style brick and stone heritage buildings frosted with snowy roofs and all the willow trees along the river are thick and hanging with white. The sun is peeking from the clouds so we may be in for a gorgeous day. Photographers paradise this morning.

We are all on the bus as I write, and we’ve designated that the next 2 hours of ride is going to be a “quiet talking and lots of sleeping” kind of ride. So far, we are not yet at the sleeping part, but we aren’t out of the city just yet where I am counting on the steady driving of the bus to lull everyone to sleep.

We have so much gear that I had to take a taxi cab full of gear while the other chaperones got rides to the GYMC. My cab driver was a knowledgeable tour guide. He filled me in about the Calvary Baptist Church that we’ll be performing in on Saturday. He says its HUGE but has great acoustics. I heard “huge” and had a panic attack imagining our 21 singers sounding dwarfed in a big intimidating space, but the cab driver assures me that we’ll sound great! LOL. I’ll just go with his word.

I also heard the story of how Guelph is one of the only cities to keep Walmart out for 8 or 9 years, championing to keep the city charm alive. There is a tower going in downtown- it’s going to be 18 stories, which is a big deal here. Apparently Guelph got in trouble from the OCM for allowing so much sprawl, so now a few towers are planned for the downtown area and along the rivers. One development is on the old and derelict site of the Woods Furniture factory. Remember the Price Is Right from the 70’s and ‘80’s when they’d have fabulous prizes from “Woods furniture”? THAT Woods Furniture. People here may be opposed to the towers at present, but I think of Port Moody, and the Newport and Suterbrook developments, and how those places have become real community gathering places where you can truly live, work, exercise, shop, get groceries, have a coffee, eat out…  sure is great not to have to drive everywhere and there is such a vibrancy about those areas- and still lots of small businesses.

We are heading to Peller Estates Winery. I want you to know that even though we have made jokes about me distracting the kids with a performance while the chaperones all drink a bunch of wine… is simply that- a JOKE! However we’ll confess all in a later blog post! :D  Why take singers to Peller Estates? Well this area, like our own Okanagan wine region, is really contributing to the economy in myriad ways- including cultural- and is changing these areas that used to be orchards and farms. There is a vintner’s college here in this area, and Geddy Lee of RUSH fame, sponsors scholarships for young wine makers who show promise. It’s a fairly new industry in Canada, and certainly a major one now, so I felt it was important to learn more about this, with connections to our own province. And I’m hoping that there will be some amazing acoustic that we can sing in.

The bus ride is working its magic on my tired brain… I’m going to be a role model for the kids… yawn….

Guelph Day 4: In Pictures

Our Toronto adventures began in the clouds at the CN Tower and continued with entertainment galore in the Andrew Lloyd Weber version of The Wizard of Oz before a hardworking evening rehearsal with Linda Beaupre and the Guelph Youth Singers:

Guelph Tour Day 4: A Wintery Wizard

Your kids are working so hard and still managing to keep it all together. Today was the 4th action packed day on tour. We started with a very early morning gathering at 7:45am when 26 Guelph singers/ chaperones joined our 25 on a coach to Toronto. We have a personable and conscientious driver named Darryl- he’s our man for the next 2 more days too.

The snow was slushy feathers of snow and sleet like we get at home, and many people must have stayed home because the 401 into Toronto was smooth sailing going into town. We got to the CN Tower, looked up, and sadly… 1/2 way up it disappeared into thick low lying clouds. At first we wondered if we should cancel going up since we wouldn’t be able to see anything up at the top. However, when we polled the kids, our crew all wanted to go up to the top ANYWAY. I’m sure the Guelph kids were rolling their eyes thinking we were insane to go ahead with the tickets to go up in such conditions, but being the gracious hosts that they are, most of them joined us.

Well! Who knew that being at the top of the CN Tower in a white out would be such hysterical fun?!?!? The glass floor was bananas- I can’t even imagine standing on it if you could see all the way down. Quite a few singers were freaking at the height and at their fear of stepping near this glass floor. I was so proud of the kids who faced their fears and eventually all the kids got a minimum of one foot on the floor. We have photos to prove it too.

After the frenzied shrieks around the glass floor, we discovered going outside in the snow and WIND… it just about blew you right over! And the decks were slushy so for some of the smaller singers, the wind actually blew them along the deck like they were ice- sailing. Craaaazzzeeee. More shrieks of hysteric fun.

We ended up having about 90 minutes in Eaton Centre- like our Pacific Centre or Metrotown Mall. The first order of business was to eat at the food fair. It’s a pretty terrific food fair- at least triple the number of choices we have at Coquitlam Centre, and a surprising number of places catering to vegetarians and healthy foods. Our young guys in the groups quickly got the hang of shopping with gals who just want to browse at boring clothes stores: one GYS singer said, “look- just get me something at Dairy Queen and I’ll go wherever you want.” So there they were, eating ice cream outside of Bath & Body, while a group of gals sniffed every bottle of bath bubbles in the store.

We walked out of the mall and across the street to the ornate Ed Mirvish Theatre where we saw the new production of The Wizard of Oz. What a show! With a real Toto that was adorable! I won’t spill the beans, but if the show comes to Vancouver, or you have the opportunity to see it… GO! Our kids were mesmerized the entire time. Angela was oh so proud that a couple of people specifically told her how well behaved our group was. And they WERE!

Back on the bus, we stopped and picked up our boxed dinners that were all ready for us, so that we could eat while we headed back to Guelph. At the Guelph Youth Music Centre (GYMC) we had a rehearsal with Linda Beaupre and the full GYS choir. Now you must know that I’ve been a fan of Linda’s for as long as I’ve been working with children’s choirs. Having the opportunity to hear how she works with the choir, how she rehearses, how she tackles trouble spots, hearing the GYS alongside our singers… all extremely valuable and the reason for coming here. An hour later, when we rehearsed on our own, Coastal Sound singers had a whole new perspective on what it means to be singing with precision, full body sound and rich vowels. And we are leaving GYS with our “Village” choreography to play with, so that feels good- that we have something to offer them too.

The Guelph and Coastal Sound singers are sure mixing and enjoying each other now. It’s so fun to see them making new friends and finding kindred spirits.

Tomorrow we are off to Niagara region for an over night trip. Our chaperones are making the call that the bus ride to Niagara will be the “sleeping” bus… a little forced rest and sleep is needed if we are going to keep up this pace and still be able to sing well.

That goes for me too- I’ve gotta sleep now too.

And… it’s still snowing outside.

~Diana

Guelph 3: In Pictures

Oh, what a busy, fun day we’ve had! From checking out campus life at the University of Guelph to a yummy pot luck supper hosted by the Guelph Youth Singers with stops for an amazing acting workshop and tobagganing along the way.

Lots of great pictures today and I’ve got my fingers crossed for a successful upload to Flickr overnight. Link to follow!

~Angela

 

Guelph Tour Day 3: The U, The GYMC, The Hill, The Snow!

Just in case readers at home have been watching the weather reports for Guelph, and are worried about us and the impending snow/ sleet storm heading this way… let me ASSURE you that we have singer safety as our #1 priority. We are supposed to be meeting tomorrow morning and heading to Toronto, to go up the CN Tower, then on to see Wizard of Oz. If the bus won’t drive in the morning because of road conditions, we are prepared to delay our departure, and even skip the CN Tower if we have to. Right now, roads are clear but its around zero, so slush is coming down. Truly, we would have been disappointed if we didn’t get to experience a bit of a “real Canadian Winter” while we are here!

Anyway, I’m sure you want to hear about our adventures TODAY! It was certainly another action packed day, but so full of gut-busting laughter and authentically joyous faces on the singers.

We started off meeting at the University of Guelph. The University is known for its outstanding Veterinary College so a number of our singers were thrilled about that. It’s a stunning campus full of grand stone buildings and green spaces that were quite white with snow today. Both of our tour guides sing in the women’s choir at the university under the direction of Dr. Marta McCarthy. I had the thrill of hearing them perform in Ottawa last year- unbelievable shimmering tone, precision and artistry. Our guides took us all over the main campus, showing us huge lecture halls- we got to see some teaching in action- and the residence where first year students are guaranteed a place to live, and the adjacent cafeteria that was first rate. I think it’s actually an award-winning cafeteria for university residence food. Imagine walking through a fun “all inclusive” type tropical resort buffet, where all dietary needs can be met. Kinda like that. A FAR cry from my University res days and the gross version of “mulligatawny”  soup and fries that seemed to be served at every meal.

We also got to see the gyms and pool, the skating rink, the coffee shops and science atrium, and The Cannon. I’ll let your singer fill you in on that piece of university lore. Our tour was 2 hours of walking and seeing the campus highlights, so we learned a lot about what it will be like to go to post secondary education.

From there, we walked a block or so to “One Stone Road”, which is a dramatic piece of architecture that is a 5 story provincial office building that features balconies that all over look a central atrium. We performed a full concert set there with a few of our GYS friends. This was the first time that we wore our new “winter casual” uniforms of fleece ponchos. I’ve started calling them “togas” because we’ve taken to wearing them over one shoulder for ease of movement. I must say, they are warm and serve that purpose of keeping us cozy… and with time singers will stop fussing with them on stage! With our winter boots it was kind of a funky look… but as I say, we were trying it all out for the first time. We were really respectfully and warmly received! It was SO nice that people who are busy in the offices there, took time out to watch our set from the balconies. I am told that the sound carried straight up the 5 story atrium to the top balconies. Singers I don’t think, realized how many people were watching from all around, up so high!

From there, we ate a bit, and we shuttled (those awesomely generous hosts again) a couple of km to the Guelph Youth Music Centre where we had a TERRIFIC acting workshop for almost 3 hours. Zoe and Jake took us through a number of improv warm ups and had us all in stitches for most of the time. I was amazed at the courage of ALL of the singers. Some of them are somewhat shy, but Jake and Zoe immediately created this environment of play, of “YES”, of acceptance, of support for one another, of patience… so that ALL singers had opportunities to be solo actors and improvisors throughout the afternoon. Brilliant on the part of the instructors and on the part of those kids who stepped WAY out of their comfort zones in front of their peers. I’m in awe of them. I’m not sure that I have their same courage. Honestly. I kept looking at their faces- just totally gleaming and beaming with joy and total engagement with each other. So totally lost in the moment. So cool to be there as a witness. We also got Jake to help us with our staging of La Villanella. I can’t wait for you to see it now that he’s helped us “be strong characters” and “commit to our actions fully”.

From THERE we loaded up on a bus with snow gear and borrowed sleds of all shapes and sizes, and headed over to Centennial Hill, where we zoomed and shrieked our way down this crazy bump of fast snow. Don’t worry- there were no trees or obstacles anywhere dangerous- not like Burnaby Mountain at all! It was really really windy- so lots of hysteric laughter as the wind whipped the crazy carpets away like discarded tissues, with us chasing and slipping our way crazily after them. Did I mention the wind? Sure was good to get out and let loose a bit. And I must mention, some of the singers that you might think of as timid on stage? totally NOT timid on the sledding hill! Not at all! Fear of speed is not a factor to those ski kids in the choir. :D  Thoughtfully, one of our hosts who lived close by, opened her home for those who wanted to sip hot drinks instead of sledding.

Back on the bus shuttle, back to Guelph Youth Music Centre. I have to tell you about this gem of a community space: The centre was built on the site of an old mill, so parts of the heritage building remain. Over the years, volunteer labour made this inspiring space that includes a 180 seat recital hall, reclaimed wood floors, huge glass walls that overlook the stone wall remains of the old mill…there are rehearsal studios, kitchenettes, practice and lesson rooms, a dance/ drama studio… I am in love with this place already. It has a warmth about it that I can’t adequately describe in words. 

Our parent hosts from Guelph made a potluck dinner for all of us. Unlimited amounts of shepherd’s pie and lasagnas… perfect noshing for after our ‘sledding in the wind’ adventure! It feels like our singers are starting to make some more connections with GYS singers- lots more chatting and mingling and laughter together tonight. We know they are getting to know one another and be more comfortable because the NOISE level is increasing when they are together now!

Good times. Happy kids. They are already appearing to be more confident in the way they carry themselves, and this is only Day 3. Happy director.

ew. I just looked outside. The snow is blowing sideways. Your job at home is to THINK THOUGHTS OF CLEAR, SAFE ROADS for the morning commute in Guelph. Okay? Thanks!

~Diana

 

 

Guelph Day 2: In Pictures

They say that a picture tells a thousand words and I have to agree. Our adventure in Guelph today took us to some amazing places and we met lovely people everywhere we went.  

~ Angela

A Performance at Central Elementary School

 

Guelph Day 2: Singing, Skating, Scavengering

Today was an epic day- feels like 3 days all in one!

We started out at Central Public School, a lovely little school right at the top of what is known as “Catholic Hill”. In the photos you’ll see the huge cathedral that overlooks town- the school is across the street. This school is K-6, about 120 students. Every morning, the day starts with the singing of O Canada in a combo of French and English, as an instrumental and vocal accompaniment plays over the PA. That immediately got us all going “wow THIS is why we are exchanging- things are done differently here!”.

Our concert was really well received- the audience was amazing, and sang along joyously when we taught them “Lift Up Your Voice” and “Shine A Light on a Child”. (and yep, we left Shine buttons there for them.) 5 singers from GYS joined us too- they were amazing good sports about instantly learning our choreography and getting dragged along with us :) Fab fab young people- so open. To be honest, even though we sang well, singers kept YAWNING big huge embarrassing (to me) yawns throughout the show!!!! ACK! So I know there is some jet lag going on.

Then we got changed into our winter wear- and Guelph parents have been SO amazing about shuttling our gear and garment bags around (when they heard that we would rent a bus, they insisted that they shuttle our stuff so that singers could walk and see the city by foot)- then we walked down Catholic Hill to the Guelph City Hall where the outdoor rink is. Imagine this:  GYS families found skates and helmets in all of our sizes and skate preferences, so that we could skate outside! It turned out to be a great time for all: Barry was having a ball skating up a storm, and our kids were brave about skating, even when for some, it was a brand new experience. Many had never skated outdoors before, a couple had never ever skated at all! How wonderful to experience a real Canadian winter activity that we miss out on living on the Wet Coast. The Mayor of Guelph dropped by for photos and to give us pins. Hot chocolates were delivered to the rink by our parent hosts- yum.

We walked a short ways to a beautiful little mall- yes I used the word “beautiful” and “mall” in the same sentence! It is a glass roofed enclosed historic street- the acoustics were stunning inside and they actually turned off the ambient music for us so that we could perform a couple pieces there! I had no idea that it would be so terrific to sing there, or we would have planned for more. We also ate our lunches there. Lots of comments from kids about how their families packed them nice big yummy lunches!

We walked from there back up the hill to Guelph Civic Museum where we had a slide show and docent explain about the history of Guelph. Vancouver just celebrated 125 years anniversary. Tri-Cities is 100 this year. Guelph by comparison is 186 years old! And it shows in the gorgeous limestone and brick Victorian style buildings everywhere! Picture Victorian homes- stone- with big verandas and looking like they could be in a magazine. Cost? $350,000 for a most desirable part of town. Read it and weep people. Anyway, the kids had fun scavengering around the museum. Did you know the Sleeman family- yep Sleeman Brewery, but it was originally SilverCreek Brewery- put a lot of money and infrastructure into the town. Old man Sleeman was Mayor at one time. Also, the Bell Piano and Organ factory was based here, as was Biltmore Hats. (Funny- Biltmore Hats are featured next to the Guitar store downtown! All you singer-songwriters will find that makes sense.)

THEN… we walked or got rides to the home of WW1 Doctor/ Poet John McCrae. That was terrific. Our docent was wonderful. They fed us all chunks of hard tack- the same stuff the soldiers ate. Imagine eating a hard, dry salt dough Christmas ornament. Just like that. But I think we were all hungry because it was like “mmmm hard tack! crunch crunch crunch!” They’d also made us a big vat of hot chocolate so while we drank and munched cozy-ed up on the floor of the home, with WW1 memorabilia all around us, we had time to learn about conditions in the trenches in WW1, and bits of info about John McCrae. Did you know that they have on file there, 37 different musical settings of his poem?!Our kids were truly engaged and asked intelligent questions, and made good connections. It was a valuable learning opportunity.

I have to tell you how responsible your kids have been today. Helpful at every turn, looking out for one another, nice manners, respectful, not a whine or complaint when we have been out and about, and it’s been a busy day. So pat yourselves on the back parents!!! Your kids are just wonderful to tour with!

Lots of photos taken today- some cute scenes. Angela and I will try to get them up somewhere asap.

Cheers! ~Diana

 

Guelph Tour Day 1

Readers will be happy to know that we all arrived safe and sound to Guelph tonight, after a VERY early morning start!

Traveling with this many singers is loads of fun, but things move a lot slower than traveling alone: we all got through security without any incidents whatsoever.. and they even gave us our own line so that we could go through and be able to keep tabs on everyone easier…. but it still all takes a while. We had a quiet plane trip across the snowy Rockies, the Prairies, over Lake Michigan… and then banked into Toronto. For one of our singers, this is her FIRST plane trip!!! David Suzuki was on our plane with his adorable grandson- I think most of the singers had their eyes on the TV screens in front of them though. We were all thankful to have the prepaid meal and snack vouchers for the plane- this no sleep/ early traveling/ worrying about where your stuff is at all times business makes a singer HUNGRY!!!

A comfy coach bus took us to Guelph, by way of a Tim Hortons- “when in Ontario, do what Ontario-ans do”?! We went through rural Ontario where there is lots of snow, bare brown trees and gorgeous old brick and stone homes- the stately kind we never see on the Coast. In fact, with wind and light snow blowing, we were all glad for having worn boots and parkas!

The Guelph Youth Music Centre is a beautiful, vibrant place, full of esoteric instruments in display cabinets, and musicians of all ages coming and going. We were cheerily greeted by our hosts, waving outside and immediately helping us with our luggage. They had brought light snacks- homemade brownies and rice crispie squares and hot choc for us. We did a couple of mixer activities, got our ice skates fitted for tomorrow, and then off the kids went with their host families, for dinner. We chaperones meanwhile, looked at a mountain of gear that we need to tote around with us this week, and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, headed for our accommodations with the help of 4 really lovely Guelph parents who offered to take us and all the gear.

Falling into bed now… Gee it’s only about 7pm back home but it sure feels LATE and I can’t stay awake a moment longer.

Hugs to all back home ~Diana