Grade 8 singer Dylan Matthews leads the Arbutus student choir in Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. (Screenshot/Youtube)

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

Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read