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Virden voices to perform in New York's Carnegie Hall

Konektis choir prepares for Canada at Carnegie. Local performers share what the NYC trip means to them.
Konektis on Virden's Auditorium Theatre stage, March 2, 2023

Six top choirs in Canada will be joining their voices to bring ‘Canada at Carnegie’ to New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The Brandon choir, Konektis, under the guiding hand of Virden’s Michelle Chyzyk will be one of those choirs.

Excitement is building. Chyzyk says, “There, we're going to be working with two fabulous professors, Carrie Tennant from Vancouver, and Jamie Hillman from Toronto.” Tennant is the founder and artistic director of Vancouver Youth Choir. Dr. Hillman was appointed to University of Toronto Faculty of Music programs in Choral Conducting.

“It's going to be very, very exciting,” says Chyzyk.

Canada at Carnegie takes place on April 1 where 35 members of Konektis will join choirs from B.C., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and two from Ontario.

This trip has been planned since the fall of 2022. Choirs were chosen by audition or by invitation. “We're very lucky because Carrie Tennant is a big connection. So, she was more than thrilled we were going to attend.”

A Carnegie Hall performance is a highlight, however, the entire trip will be an experience to remember. “We've got our fan clubs with us,” says Chyzyk. “Some singers have their parents coming along. And some have their children coming along. Because of course, we're all different ages.”

As an educator and long-time choir director, she’s looking forward to this trip with an adult choir. “Everybody is kind of making New York their own experience.” From jazz clubs to opera, there’s so much to do in the Big Apple.

Location, location! The choirs will stay in a hotel on Times Square in downtown Manhattan and rehearse together in the hotel’s ballroom. “Carnegie Hall is not too far away down the block,” says Chyzyk, adding “all the Broadway theaters are close by.”

An accomplished pianist, singer and chorale conductor this is not Michelle Chyzyk’s first appearance on the Carnegie stage. In the 1990s she accompanied Brandon professor Elizabeth Grant’s chamber choir for their performance in Carnegie Hall.

“I was a very busy accompanist. I traveled many, many places accompanying choirs. It was a great way to learn from so many wonderful conductors.”


Chyzyk gives praise to Konektis’ pianist as one of the group’s heroes. Virden Collegiate graduate Justine (Gould) Burke has been with the choir since its inception. She’s also the grade 5-12 music teacher at Carberry.

One of Burke’s favourite pieces for the NYC concert is a commission just for Carnegie. ‘The Wind Is My Shepherd’ by Sarah Quartel. It ranks favourite with other singers too.

Burke says of this opportunity, “It'll be good. It'll be wonderful.”

With just weeks to departure, excitement is mounting for one of the youngest members of Konektis, VCI student Dylan Southam says, “I’m just ecstatic to be able to go on this trip to New York with Konektis, and not just to be at Carnegie Hall, but perform at Carnegie Hall with them. Konektis is such a close, tight knit group. And I'm just so glad to be able to do that with them.”

Southam is pumped about their Times Square location, the focus of world famous musicals. “So I'm going to try to go to as many Broadway shows as I can.”

In his final semester at VCI, Southam plans to attend Brandon University School of Music “and hopefully become a high school music teacher.”

Todd Plaisier is one of Konektis mature bass voices. He says the NYC trip was not something he ever thought he’d be doing. “It’s something that you never really think of, to be honest.”

A high point for Plaisier is having their daughter join Konektis on stage. “My daughter Brianna, I invited her to come along with me. And because she's actually a fairly accomplished singer herself, she's going to be singing with us as well in Carnegie. So that was a nice little surprise!”

Plaisier’s experience with Konektis runs deep and wide. “I enjoy the rehearsing. I enjoy the camaraderie, the making music, and the emotions that go along with making music.”

Having family join him is a pinnacle. “The important thing for me… I’ve always managed to sing with two of my children when they were singing with the high school choir and with Westman (Youth Choir)… having Brianna sing with me in New York is something fantastic for me.”

The Plaisiers will take in some Broadway shows.  But Todd’s a sports fan too. “And so I grabbed some tickets for the Yankees home opener Thursday afternoon. We're gonna go catch the ball game as well.”



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