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Volunteer musicians keeping Burgeo Academy choir alive

Andrew Normore and Alexis Cumpstone pose for a photo at the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre, where they had brought a choir of 13 members from Burgeo Academy to perform on Monday morning.
Andrew Normore and Alexis Cumpstone pose for a photo at the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre, where they had brought a choir of 13 members from Burgeo Academy to perform on Monday morning. - Frank Gale
STEPHENVILLE, N.L. —

Each year, weather permitting, a choir from Burgeo Academy performs at the Stephenville Rotary Music Festival.

That tradition continues despite the school having lost its music program due to education cuts two years ago.

Music is a hobby for 33-year-old Andrew Normore from Corner Brook, whose wife Lori Anderson is originally from Burgeo and wanted to live back home. The family moved there three years ago with children Shayna, now eight years of age, and Shelby, now three.

With the loss of the music program, there was still a choir, but it couldn’t keep going without a director.

There were two young girls from high school helping the choir and Normore joined them last year.

He had played guitar for a Christmas event, which members of the choir seemed to enjoy. Seeing they the caliber of talent at that variety show, Normore made the decision to direct them.

“I felt it would be a shame for them to not have that opportunity of continuing to perform,” Normore said.

He’s not exactly sure how long the choir has been coming to Stephenville but did see an award in the school where they placed at the Stephenville Rotary Festival back in 2005.

Normore said Alexis Cumpstone who, at 19 years of age, is a classically trained musician, moved to Burgeo this year and she’s helping with the accompaniment for the choir.

She also goes into the school as a volunteer and does music with students from Kindergarten to Grade 3.

The choir of 13 members from Grades 2-6 performed two pieces at the music festival: “California Dreaming” by John and Michelle Philips and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.

Normore said last year, his first time as director of the group in a musical festival, the choir placed first.

He said this year the adjudicator seemed impressed with their performance and he and his students were impressed by the other choirs in their category.

Normore works full time with a construction survey company so — along with two kids and his involvement with the choir – life is hectic but said he’ll make it work. His daughter Shayna is a also member of the choir.

In addition to the music festival, the choir performed at a Christmas concert back in December with a “light the night” ceremony, a spring concert at their school and will perform for the long-term care patients at the Calder Health Care Facility in Burgeo.

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