The City of Calgary is a hub for all genres of music. This year, William Roper Hull School has been thrilled to partner with Calgary’s Big Winter Classic Music Festival. The festival (which kicked off on Jan. 25) celebrates diversity amongst local musicians and those from across North America. Event organizers and associated artists understand the impact music can have on developing youth. “The Big Winter Classic is more than a music festival,” says festival founder Adrian Urlacher, “We are creating a culture that is built on diversity, collaboration and passion.”
At William Roper Hull School, we are actively exploring the value of learning opportunities such as artists-in-residence and collaborative place-making to showcase student work. Most recently, several students from William Roper Hull School engaged in a sequence of three transformative sessions with local musician Darcy Turning Robe. Turning Robe’s sessions helped to nurture the growth of individual participants, as well as the dynamic of the group. The sessions also reinforced the protocol and intention involved in taking part in a cross-cultural event, in the spirit of reconciliation.
With the support of Darcy Turning Robe and staff at our school, students learned traditional singing and drumming in preparation for a much-anticipated performance in a Big Winter Classic festival and IRIM (Indigenous Reconciliation in Music) event. The performance took place on the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 25 at Calgary’s gorgeous new Central Public Library. The event was an introductory activity in our school’s exploration of place-based learning, through which we seek to promote personal growth and discovery through deepening connections throughout the community. Our students were phenomenal. Hundreds of members of the general public were drawn to listen and watch, as a contagion of smiles and warmth spread throughout the beautiful atmosphere on the wings of student-created and performed traditional music.
At William Roper Hull School, we are committed to fostering inclusive and safe spaces. We believe that experiencing local Indigenous cultures promotes the development of insight, creativity and communication for students of all backgrounds at our school. This partnership and the awe-inspiring performance at the Central Library are timeless reminders of our commitment to this learning.
Our students have embraced this journey with open arms. As one expressed, referring to his thoughts on reconnecting to his culture through traditional song and performing this music for scores of people, “I am so happy today.”