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

Saanich Neighbourhood Place is hoping to open the doors to its new centre in July, pending final council approval. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich childcare agency awaits final approval on much-needed new facility

Saanich Neighbourhood Place keen to open new centre this summer, expand options for community

A patio built by The Village is shared by three eateries in Estevan. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay eateries sharing communal patio space in Estevan Village

The Village invested $25,000 in streetside patio, hopes to make it permanent

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read