Three High Silver Awards For Swan Hills School at Music Festival

In a first for Swan Hills School, three musical ensembles represented the school with performances at the 2024 Barrhead Rotary Music Festival. Held from March 6 – 14 this year, the annual festival is open to all ages of talent in four separate categories: speech, voice, instruments, and piano.

The school competed in the festival for the first time In 2021 with a single handbell group, earning a high silver award in their debut performance. Due to the public health measures in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was held virtually in 2021 and 2022, with participants submitting pre-recorded video performances. This arrangement allowed Swan Hills School to enter the festival without the logistics of having to arrange transportation for the students back and forth to Barrhead.

In 2022, the handbell group took home a gold award with a score of 91%. The school had another first that year with a student, Willow Feduniak, submitting a solo vocal performance and earning a bronze award. The handbell group was able to perform in person for the first time last year, earning a silver award for their efforts.

This year, the school had a much larger presence at the festival, with two handbell groups and a vocal choir. The handbell groups included an elementary group comprised of brand-new members from grades four and five and a senior group of students from grades four through seven. The elementary choir consisted of students from grades four, five, and six. Altogether, 24 students participated in the festival, with some members involved in more than one of the three groups.

Coach Brenda Kuyek, the elementary music teacher at Swan Hills School, has continued to lead the handbell groups through their successful performances at the music festival over the last four years. School principal Sherry Pfannmuller joined Coach Kuyek to lead the vocal choir this year.

In a stunning achievement, all three groups earned high silver awards for their efforts this year. Both handbell groups scored 89%, with the elementary group playing Go Tell it on the Mountain and the senior group playing Morning Song. The elementary choir scored 87% for their debut performances of In This Ancient House (a Japanese folk song) and Rockin’ Robin.

Congratulations to the Swan Hills School handbell groups for another outstanding performance and the vocal choir for their fantastic debut!

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette