We have been part of the U of L Conservatory choir community since my daughter was 7 years old. Ezra sings nonstop and these past 6 years of choir have been memorable and powerful for her social, emotional and psychological development. From attending various trips, to performing in yearly community concerts she continues to enjoy going to choir on a weekly basis. I asked her what her favourite part of choir is and she quickly responded with “the people”! Kathy Matkin-Clapton has been a wonderful support to our family and has helped Ezra develop her personality, self-confidence, her voice training, as well as her passion and love for music. Thanks Kathy and the University of Lethbridge Conservatory of Music! We are grateful to be part of this awesome program!
When our son started singing in the Youth Choir of the University of Lethbridge Conservatory, I knew he loved to sing, but I could have never predicted what an important part of his life and education singing in the choir would become. Kathy Matkin-Clapton is such an inspiring, uplifting and caring teacher, she always finds little things to point out about the kids that make them feel confident and reinforce who they are. He always comes home singing a tune and excited about all that he has learned. If he could only take one class outside of his school work, it would always be choir with Kathy.
I was given the challenging task of describing in words why I love the Incanto Singers. I have been a member for four years now. When I walked in that first Wednesday, I could have never guessed how important this choir would become to me. The Incanto Singers have become my second family; these individuals have caused tears of laughter in some of the darkest times of my life and I am forever grateful.
It is my pure privilege to know our beautiful and talented director, Kathy Matkin Clapton. Kathy provides us with the opportunity to perform and learn beautiful music, as well as making us individually better performers. But more importantly, she has taught me to be a better person; to be more caring, empathetic, to see the joy in the small details of life and to laugh. Kathy’s laughter is beyond infectious.
Music is one of the few things that are universal to all human beings. Melody and rhythm can trigger feelings from sadness to serenity to joy to awe; music can trigger memories and bring stories to life. I consider it an honor to stand beside my beautiful altos, sing and laugh till I cry on a weekly basis with these amazing people.
My daughter has had the privilege to be part of the University choir programs at both the children and now youth level. I don’t use the word privilege unintentionally as with the membership comes the opportunity to be influenced and led by Kathy Matkin Clapton and her joyous approach to music, choir and life. The past 4 years of being part of this magnificent community of singers has been a gift which I see my daughter continuing to be part of for many years to come.
Every once in a while, you stumble across one of those hidden gems in Lethbridge, things that do so much more than they need to, and the Children’s Choir is one of those treasures. My two sons have loved their time in the choir (combined about 5 years now). Of course they learn about music and how to sing. They learn the joy of making music with others. But there is so much more to it. It’s a really positive, supportive environment, where each child feels supported. Under Kathy and now Nicole’s direction, the children do more than even they know they are capable of. Their concentration and focus during those weekly practices is amazing. One of my kids is very shy, and before the first performance, he was very stressed. But he wanted to do it, and was so proud of himself when he got through it. He conquered a major fear, because of the supportive environment that Kathy cultivates. Two years on, he’s still nervous before every performance but he knows he can do it now. And that sense of accomplishment, of having met a challenge by doing their best together, is really what it’s all about for us. Thank you, Kathy, for the music and the magic.
Attempting to sum up my feelings about the Incanto Singers is an extravagantly futile task. The Singers are not “just another choir” and singing is not just an “edifying experience” for a young person. It’s true that I am a far better singer because of my time in this choir, and it’s also true that I have been given a lifelong appreciation of choral music because of the Incanto Singers. I dearly hope that there will rarely be a time in my life when I’m not able to sing something somewhere—even if I have to settle for singing to myself (and my tolerant neighbours) around the house. But musical skill is only the smallest part of what I have been given during my time in the Incanto Singers. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that since I joined this choir, I have become an infinitely more kind, creative, and confident human being than I would have been had I not signed on. This isn’t a list of my positive attributes (which would be much longer, thank-you very much); it’s a list of the values this choir has instilled in me and, I’m sure, in my fellow singers.
I can’t stress enough the fundamental importance of music as an outlet and an inspiration, nor can I overemphasize the need for music as a kind of creative greenhouse for growing both empathy and imagination. Empathy and imagination—you can’t have one without the other, can you? Thankfully, the Incanto Singers takes its cue from its director, Kathy Matkin-Clapton, who seems to have an inexhaustible supply of both, to say nothing of her genuine talent and passion for teaching music. Let me repeat: singing in the Incanto Singers is not just singing in another choir. To participate in the Incanto Singers is to rediscover music altogether, to learn that song is a fundamental human expression that dissolves all differences and discriminations, and to experience a rare and precious depth of communion with one’s humanity in the process. If that isn’t good, I don’t know what is.
Our three children have all loved being a part of the University of Lethbridge’s Children’s Choir and Youth Singers. Not only have they grown in their understanding and appreciation of choral music over the years, but they have thrived under the talented, inspiring and gentle direction of Kathy Matkin-Clapton. She brings so much joy to each rehearsal and the singers really pick up on that. We feel lucky that they have had the opportunity to be a part of such wonderful groups.
There are so many things that come to my mind when I think about being a part of the Incanto singers—so many memories I will always have and so many friends I have made. We gather every week as a group of young people with a common desire to sing beautiful music and that is a goal which we accomplish together under the loving guidance of our director Kathy Matkin-Clapton.
I think that anyone who has come to our concerts and has heard us sing can see that we work hard together to create beautiful music, but I think that perhaps the most amazing part of Incanto happens behinds the scenes.
Incanto is open for any young adult with a desire to sing and it is that desire that binds us together but it is not that want alone that makes this choir so incredibly unique. I cannot speak for anyone else but I know that I look forward to Wednesday evenings each week because of what choir means to me. See, choir isn’t just about the music, and it isn’t just about seeing old friends or making new ones. Incanto is more than just a choir because it is a place where everyone is able to feel welcome and important; Incanto has instilled a sense of self-confidence in me that I have never felt before and that is the most remarkable thing to me.
This is my eleventh year in the U of L choirs, and I can honestly say that after every choir practice I leave feeling better than I did before I came. For eleven years it has been that one place I can go to once a week and forget about school and anything else and just focus on making music.
Kathy is an incredible person and never fails to make choir a unique experience. I’m extremely grateful that she created The Incanto Singers for “younger than her” adults so that we all feel welcomed into a choir community where we can all come together and make music (and talk and joke around a little more than we should).
There isn’t any better place to be on a Wednesday evening!