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Harmony Project Sooke tunes in awards

Local youth musical group shines at Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival

A talented group of young local musicians are gaining a growing reputation for making marvellous music.

Harmony Project Sooke took home two of the four awards available and earned scholarships at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival, held from April 23 to May 14 at the University of Victoria.

Accolades continued to roll in for Harmony Project Sooke (HPS), with the senior drumline group finishing first at the Canadian Drumline Association Championship on May 6 in Abbotsford.

It’s a busy time of year for HPS, with both the drumline and strings preparing to record videos for entry in the cross-country MusicFest nationals.

The group also took part in the Island Farms Victoria Day Parade on May 23 and will perform at the grand opening of the new Vancouver Island Regional Library branch in Sooke on June 11 and the Sooke Youth Arts Fair on June 25 as part of the Sooke Philharmonic orchestra’s summer concert series.

“All of our teachers have great expertise in their respective fields,” said HPS executive director Lorna Bjorklund. “Having the best teachers has always been a strong focus. They all have a very caring spirit for their students and are willing to go out of their way to help. They are caring and respectful as well, which is your ideal situation, and there’s a great spirit of teamwork among the teachers.”

Teaching assistant Brent Straughan credits the extra time spent last summer working with a group of 12 youngsters between eight and 13 years of age on sight-reading as a contributor to the students’ recent success.

Lead string teacher Maria Wang is collaborating with the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) to provide opportunities for students in the HPS program to learn from and perform with adult musicians, as well as for those who attend the SPO’s chamber music workshops.

Drumline teacher Alex Mold composed several original pieces for the junior and senior drumlines that earned high praise in recent competitions.

The HPS and the SPO support each other in many ways, with many musicians with the Sooke Philharmonic taking the time to mentor kids in the program, who often perform with the SPO. Both organizations were founded by the SPO’s former conductor, Norman Nelson, who died in 2018.

Bjorklund said board members are grateful for the support of the teachers, students, community and the District of Sooke, the Victoria Foundation, Telus Musicounts, and the Sheldon-Gilmour Foundation, which are critical to Harmony Project-Sooke’s continuity and success.

If you are interested in finding out more about the HPS, email

“Classes start in the fall, and we’re always looking for more teachers and students,” Bjorklund said.

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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