It might be a long way from Hollywood, but Faro has a glee club.
That may seem surprising for a town of 400 people nestled in the Yukon wilderness, but students there aren’t content to leave all the singing to the TV stars.
The club consists of 10 kids, nearly one quarter of the school’s 45 students. While they’ve only been singing together for a few months, they have their first concert planned for this evening at the Del Van Gorder public school.
The club got started in October when Brian Bekk, the club’s musical director, had one of his occasional fits of musical energy.
“I like music. This is a small town with not many opportunities to do anything. We had a new principal come to the school who was energetic and wanting to do things, so we went down and offered to start a choir,” Bekk said.
The first couple of practices were rough, he said, but it wasn’t long before the kids started to get the hang of it.
“The first day, it was really quite brutal. There were maybe three or four kids who could hold a note. But we’ve been working with them and we’ve got a whole group that can actually sound like a chorus. When I get them to sing a note, they actually all blend and it sounds great,” Bekk said.
Bursts of inspiration aren’t unusual for Bekk. He has a long romance with music, starting as a teenager in Ontario and lasting right up until today.
“I love everything music. In high school I was president of the music association in a very large high school. When the music association travelled, it took three Greyhound buses to move us,” he said.
After high school, Bekk toured with a band for a year, had an a cappella group in Calgary for a few years and eventually wound up in Faro with his wife Cindy and their six children.
Bekk laughs when asked if his club takes inspiration from the hit TV musical Glee.
“The name ‘glee club’ paints a picture of Glee on TV and we just don’t have the million dollars an episode that they do. The dancing and singing might be a little more epic on TV than you’re going to find at our concert,” he said.
Bekk also has three kids in the club, and Cindy often sings with them as well.
“We make up a big hunk of it at the moment. Elijah (the Bekks’ 14-year-old son) has just been accepted into the Yukon Sourdough Superstar contest as well,” he said.
Elijah’s younger brother Zachary, 11, is also in the club, along with their older sister Dana, 16.
Zachary said getting to sing with his siblings is fun, but it isn’t anything new. The whole family is musical, and family sing-alongs aren’t uncommon at home.
“I’ve sung with them before a lot. It’s just a fun thing to do. We sing together a lot at home,” Zachary said.
It also won’t be Zachary’s first time on stage. He’s performed at Arts in the Park in Whitehorse.
The club had been pushing hard to be ready for a Christmas concert in December, but like all good dramas, things didn’t exactly go according to plan.
In a last-minute plot twist, the club had to cancel their Christmas concert, after almost everyone at the school came down with a winter flu. The day we were supposed to perform, there were only 12 kids and two teachers in the school. Everyone was sick, but the club rallied, kept practising and will hold the show today as a winter concert instead.
They’ll be performing three songs: Hakuna Matata from Disney’s The Lion King, Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree and one original piece written by Bekk himself.
“It’s a keeper of a melody with throw-away words wrapped around it. You’ll probably hear that melody used again pretty soon,” Bekk said.
Once Friday’s show is over, Bekk will open the club up to new members and start making plans for the next show.
With three teenage boys, Bekk is thinking of working on some Motown classics, something they can sing as a quartet. He’s also got plans for more jazz numbers and possibly more musical theatre as the group and the program grows.
“We’ve been working hard at getting a good choral sound. We’ve been really successful and the kids are doing well,” he said.
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