Virden-born singer performs at Carnegie Hall

If you ask Janine Waines, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” you’ll get the standard punchline plus her own directions:

“Practice, practice, practice… or join the Swift Current Oratorio Choir!”

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That’s how the Virden born-and-raised singer / teacher made it to Carnegie Hall last week.

On Monday, Jan. 21, members of the Swift Current Oratorio Choir, including Waines, went to New York City to perform the US debut of a piece called Symphonic Adiemus by composer Sir Karl Jenkins, who was in attendance.

She and 21 other members of Swift Current’s community choir joined about 270 singers from around the world.

“I’ve performed in a lot of stunning venues and this was one of them. What had me the most was the history of the venue and all the people who had been on that stage before me. It’s very humbling,” she said by phone from the high school in Swift Current where she teaches band.

Swift Current was the only Canadian choir among the vast group arrayed on the historic stage that has hosted Tchaikovsky, Mahler, George Gershwin, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, and The Beatles, just to name a few.

Virden roots

Janine is the daughter of Fred and Eva Waines of Virden. She began singing at age three in the St. Paul’s United Church Children’s Choir. She did her first solo in festival competition at five, and many years of festival successes followed.

But her musical direction crystalized when she was invited to join Virden singing group Sweet Debut.

“The guidance and inspiration I got from Michelle Chyzyk set me on a path I honestly don’t think I would have found without her… She took me in and I had so many amazing choral experiences: musicals at school; at 16 I was Anne of Green Gables.

“Having met Michelle and living in Virden gave me the greatest opportunity to grab onto music and run with it.” She also credits Virden music teacher Janet Yochim for her success.  

Waines got her music and education degrees at Brandon University (“I took a music degree because it’s the only thing I was good at”) before teaching band in Brandon for ten years at the junior high level.

In 2014, she applied for and got her current position teaching high school band in Swift Current, a job that still rewards on a deep level.

“My students are doing incredible things,” she says proudly. “We’ve been getting very high honours at music festivals the last three years, and the standard of excellence keeps rising each year.”

As far as her Carnegie Hall experience goes, Waines calls it “a completely international adventure. Sitting in rehearsal, I had Switzerland to my right, Australia to my left, Germany behind me and Great Britain in front. It was very cool.”

© Virden Empire-Advance