Heartland International English School, in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, recently joined together with violist Marie-Elyse Badeau to offer a unique cultural experience for the school’s students and staff. During a time where we are all finding new ways of connecting despite our need for physical distancing, it is truly remarkable how, with some creativity, we can find ways to enrich those connections.
Marie-Elyse Badeau, a member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, performed virtually for the Heartland audience, live from her apartment on the afternoon of Friday, April 3 and answered questions from students. Although nothing can replace the feel and sound of an in-person experience, given our limitations these days, the quality was very impressive.
Over 70 Heartland students and staff went online and “joined” Badeau in her living room to take in a range of beautiful pieces. Taking her audience on a journey from the familiar Baroque period and Bach to Schubert, through Italy with Puccini, to Russia with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, and on through the post romantic era, introducing us to Rebecca Clark and her sonata for Viola, Badeau supplemented the music with short lessons about her instrument and how she uses it to bring about such amazing music. “I chose the viola because I feel like it is closer to the human voice, it’s like singing,” Badeau explained. She demonstrated examples of different notes she can achieve by using her bow in different positions. Giving us a taste of what we can look forward to once the WSO is able to perform live again, we were treated to a rendition of Canadian song writer, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and finally a little Harry Potter brought smiles to the faces online. The chat box during the performance rolled through numerous comments about how wonderful the music was and showed that even through an online platform, an audience can still appreciate music together.
Like many businesses around the world, schools like Heartland have worked to adapt during this uncertain time. Taking classes completely online has allowed Heartland to still provide students here in Canada and others back in their home countries the ability to continue their English language education. A big part of that education includes Canadian cultural experiences; and introducing the international learners to the arts like the WSO has never been more important than it is now.