Mark DuBois and Studio Singers at Tweedsmuir Church

November 18, 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“They are not a choir”

Mark DuBois is emphatic about the fact that his Studio Singers are not a choir.

“They are individual performers,” he says. “The only time we sing together is at community events, like our upcoming concert at Tweedsmuir.”

It is a long list of community appearances the group have made over the last eight years since Mr. DuBois opened his studio in Hockley village. Not only have they performed, together and as solo performers, many times in this region but they have trav- elled with Mr. DuBois to Toronto and Mississauga.

Amongst the charity events in which they participate, the largest is probably the Loft Community Concerts in support of the homeless, held at St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

“It is quite an experience for them to get up in front of 2,000 or more people,” he remarked, but went on to add, “They learn to sing the same way for 2500 people as for 200. There’s no difference. We always have to perform to the same high standard.”

When Mr. DuBois was awarded the Pauline McGibbon Lifetime Achievement of the Arts Award, his Singers accompanied him to sing at Roy Thomson Hall. In Mississauga at the Living Arts Centre, they sang with a full symphony orchestra – the Mississauga Symphony.

For Dufferin Hospice, they have performed in the atrium of Princess Margaret Hospital.

His teaching local students really began in 2003 when Theatre Orangeville’s Young Company did Les Misérables. Maria DuBois was the coordinator for Young Company at the time and Mr. DuBois “more or less volunteered to help the boys and the girls to get through the roles, which are very demanding” for the production.

“That showed me there was a need for someone of my experience to teach the really talented kids that there are in this area,” he explained.

Since he opened his studio, more than 30 of his students have gone on to study music at university – several to University of Toronto – and have budding careers in the theatre world.

“Many of them are smart and are becoming lawyers or doctors,” he told us, “but they still do music as secondary courses – they can’t stay away from music.”

Mr. DuBois recently took on the role of organist and choirmaster at Tweedsmuir Memorial Presbyterian Church and opened a second studio on Broadway. The request to have a fundraising concert next month at and for the Orangeville church came from Earl and Grace Dodd, who belong to the church. They have heard him sing at a number of places and, as Mrs. Dodd put it, “We really like him. He’s just absolutely wonderful and everyone will enjoy the concert.”

Mr. DuBois commented, “This will be my only concert in the area this year. We’ll also be at the [Theatre Orangeville’s] Victorian Christmas, but that’s not a concert. It is our contribution to the whole evening, with other entertainment.”

Mr. DuBois considers that the performing is a big part of what he has to offer his students.

“After I teach each of them every week, they begin to wonder if I can do it,” he said. “It’s a challenge for any teacher to sing in front of his students. They’ve seen me sing when I’m really under the weather – if I have a cold, I don’t just cancel the concert, I deal with it. That is all part of the profession. It’s important they understand what it is to be a performer.”

Although he has taken on a difficult student once in a while, there still has to be the “raw goods that I need to work with,” as he said. “It is sometimes the case that I take on a young person with real talent that hasn’t come out yet. I see that talent there and I can bring it to the surface.”

He has high standards to begin with, though. Music has to be a big part of a prospective student’s life. He or she needs to play an instrument, already be involved with music or drama at school. “I’m very particular who I take.”

“The fact is that they are teenagers, busy all the time. I do believe that the kids that do have a full dance card can be very balanced, but they are all wanting to perform – they love performing.”

Over eight years, Mr. DuBois has seen his early students grow up.

“It’s quite something to watch them grow and mature emotionally, intellectually – and mature musically,” he said.

Mark DuBois and the DuBois Studio Singers are performing at Tweedsmuir Church on Monday, December 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets at $15 each are available at BookLore and by telephone to Mr. And Mrs. Dodd on 519-941-1472.

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