The Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C.
Speaker of the Senate
The busy buzz familiar to Centre Block was hushed as curious occupants tuned their ears to an enchanting sound emanating from the Senate foyer.
That Thursday afternoon, it was the harmonious sound of choral music that echoed through the marble halls.
On June 29, 2017, Speaker George J. Furey hosted the Shallaway and Ullugiagatsuk Youth Choirs from Newfoundland and Labrador during their recent trip to the nation’s capital.
The St. John’s-based Shallaway Youth Choir and the Ullugiagatsuk Choir from northern Labrador joined voices for this year’s Canada 150 celebrations. Performing at the Unisong Choral Festival on July 1, the choirs marked the occasion by singing in English, French and Inuktitut.
Expressing great pride in the youth of his province, Speaker Furey congratulated the choirs and welcomed the opportunity to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday through music.
“Choral music, much like this country, requires many diverse voices working in harmony to achieve a common purpose,” Speaker Furey said.
Following a luncheon in the Senate foyer, the members of the Shallaway and Ullugiagatsuk Youth Choirs filled Canada’s parliament building with the “Ode to Newfoundland” and a rendition of the national anthem sung entirely in Inuktitut.
“Through the presentation of innovative repertoire, Shallaway’s choristers believe in telling meaningful stories which contribute to writing the cultural tapestry of Canada,” said Kellie Walsh, artistic director of Shallaway.
“Performing traditional and newly commissioned works at Canada’s Senate was a remarkable opportunity to showcase our vibrant and diverse heritage.”
The unique chance to sing on Parliament Hill was not lost on the choristers, who were grateful to visit the Red Chamber as part of their trip to Ottawa.
“Being able to perform in the Senate in front of a Speaker from my own hometown was an amazing experience,” said Shallaway’s Rachel Kenny. “It is something I will always look back fondly on.”
During the sesquicentential celebrations, the Shallaway and Ullugiagatsuk choirs sang with over 600 choristers of all ages from across Canada. The choral concert included a performance of “Music of the Land”, a piece commissioned by Newfoundland composer Kathleen Allan, and sung in Inuktituk.