Brian Tate Comes to YHS!

Brian Tate Workshop
Composer, choir director, and performer, Brian Tate, works with junior school students

Last Thursday, choir students in Grades 3-12 participated in a workshop with award-winning and internationally renowned composer, choir director, and performer, Brian Tate.

This workshop was in preparation for a rare and exciting performance opportunity at the Chan Centre Celebration of Community on Thursday, December 18.

Karen Roeck, Director of Choral Studies, initiated this collaborative project while planning for the Celebration of Community performance.

“Since this is York House’s 80th year celebration, I wanted to do something special that highlighted as many students as possible,” says Roeck. “Brian and I met through the BC Choral Musicianship Project in August. I was so inspired by his warm and gentle personality and his ability to connect with singers of every age.”

Dawn Haylett and Karen Roeck with Brian Tate
YHS choral teachers Dawn Haylett and Karen Roeck with composer Brian Tate

Brian attributes the success of his multifaceted career to a love of working with people and a passion for the arts. His passion for music of many kinds has led to a diverse career that includes orchestral and choral conducting and performing, musical theatre, and composing music for film, television, stage, and the concert hall. Brian has twice received Vancouver’s Jessie Richardson Award for original theatre music, and his choral music is performed worldwide.

“After researching Brian’s compositions, I discovered ‘We Are One.’ The lyrics of this piece is reflective of the values we teach the girls here at YHS and embodies our motto: ‘Not For Ourselves Alone.’”

Roeck and Music department colleagues Spencer Bach and Dawn Haylett taught the song to the Gr. 3-12 students during class time in preparation for the workshop with Tate. Watch a video clip from the workshop:

“The students were thrilled to work with Brian,” says Roeck. “They were very attentive and inspired by his direction. He was able to get them to sing with such feeling and emotion – there was a ‘buzz’ of excitement in the theatre all day. These girls were given such a rare opportunity to work with such a highly regarded and accomplished musician, and it was even more special to have Brian work with one of his own compositions.”

Roeck joined the YHS staff in 2010. Through her vision and leadership over the past 2 years, the Choral program has grown from 65 students in 3 ensembles to over 200 students in 6 ensembles.

Junior girls learn "We are One"
Junior girls learn “We are One”

“The Music room is a safe and fun place to be for the students. They get to experience rehearsals, festivals, and performances with their friends, old and new. Things like the Brian Tate workshop encourage the girls to be excited and passionate about singing, and in turn, they are eager to learn more about the art of choral music,” says Roeck.

Tate was impressed with the work ethic and vocal production displayed by all the students throughout the day. He is “so honoured” to have his piece performed by the YHS students, and is thrilled to be involved with the Celebration of Community performance.

For more information about the YHS Choral Program, contact Mrs. Roeck at [email protected]. For more information about Brian, visit his website at

Tickets for the Celebration of Community may be requested via the online form found here.

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