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Guelph, Ont. high school choir sings at Foreigner concert

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High school students from Guelph, Ont. had the chance to perform with a legendary rock band on Friday night.

Members of the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI) chamber choir joined Foreigner to sing “I Want to Know What Love Is” on the Budweiser Stage in Toronto.

“It ended up actually becoming a dream come true,” said Michael Weinstangel, a Grade 11 choir member.

It was a dream come true for some parents too.

“I think it was more of an exciting thing for my dad, to be honest,” said Grade 12 choir member Lucy Gouthro, who admits singing in front of 15,000 people was a little terrifying. “All you see is people and nothing else other than people.”

This was actually the third time the choir has sung with Foreigner, but the last concert was in 2019. So, like the band’s 1977 song “Feels Like the First Time,” for these students, it was a novel experience.

Lane Osborne, the choir’s director, credits the entire band for giving students a night they’ll never forget.

“The band has been incredibly supportive of music education and sees the value of allowing students to come on stage and experience what they experience pretty much every night when they’re on tour,” said Osborne.

Foreigner bass player and 20-year-member Jeff Pilson emphasizes the point and says school choirs elevate performances.

“The beautiful thing about this is you get to see enthusiasm like you’ll never see anywhere else. And it’s very inspiring to us and makes the show better,” said Pilson.

He adds, one moment or person can influence an entire career.

“I was in orchestra in junior hig

h and high school and my orchestra teacher was this incredible man. I feel like without his guidance, I don’t know if I would have ever really had the nerve to enter a music career,” Pilson said.

While some students may not have heard of Foreigner when they first learned of this opportunity, they sure know them now and won’t ever forget.

The Guelph Collegiate and Vocational Institute at Carnegie Hall in New York City. (Courtesy: @GCVIMusic/Twitter)

But the GCVI choir doesn’t have much time to reminisce. Several of the students are now shifting their attention to their next big performances with another big rock band.

On July 2 and 3, they’ll sing “California Stars” and “Cruel Country” with Wilco at Massey Hall in Toronto.

“Originally I thought I was only going to be playing for Foreigner, which I was really excited about … and then Ms. Osborne asked me if I was available for Wilco and I just feel extremely grateful for the opportunity,” said Gemma Bain, a Grade 11 choir member. While Bain continues to practice for the big nights, she says she already has her outfit planned.

Those shows are part of a growing list of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities organized by the school’s music program. Last year, the choir also took the stage at Carnegie Hall.

 

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