A Steinbach Christian School student represented Manitoba last weekend at MusicFest 2024 Canada in Toronto.  

Benjamin Hiebert from Blumenort is in Grade 11 at SCS, and has been singing since he was eight years old. His mother Dana says he was looking for a way to challenge himself and so he auditioned for the national choir competition.  

She says, “They were really looking for representation from across Canada, and they had nobody from Manitoba yet. And they were especially encouraging young singers from specifically Manitoba to audition. So, he was like, you know what, I think I'd really like to do this.” 

The young Hiebert noted to his mother that it would be an exciting opportunity to grow in music and a chance to be stretched, and to have the opportunity to sing with other talented performers so, he decided to go for it.” 

Dana says that after he sent in his audition video, they received news back that he’d been accepted to sing in the 52nd MusicFest May 13 – 18 at the University of Toronto. 

She says, once he arrived on campus, rehearsals began on the 13 songs the 62-voice choir was to learn.  

Dana notes, "they did get their music ahead of time so that they could practice them, because they were all quite challenging pieces. But then when everybody came together, they worked really intensively on those pieces for four or five days.” 

Hiebert says at the end of the week the choir performed at some schools in Toronto among other locations in the Greater Toronto region. 

2024 MusicFest Canada is an invitation-only event, giving opportunity for music students and educators from across the country to spend time together over one week.

Benjamin Hiebert at MusicFest 2024 (photo submitted)Benjamin Hiebert (secondfrom right) at MusicFest 2024 together with Lydia Adams (front far-left), recipient of the Order of Canada in 2023 and Scott Leithead, Director of Ellison Canadian Honour Choir (printed shirt) and others from the event. (photo submitted). 

A familiar name to many, Dr. Elroy Friesen, formerly from Steinbach, was an adjudicator at the festival which Hiebert counts as an honour, as Dr. Friesen was her choir director when she attended SCS.  

Dana says her son sings Baritone and is currently taking lessons from David Klassen. Benjamin is also working on starting a band with a friend and is well-rounded also playing guitar among other instruments.  

“I think he really enjoys it all, I think each type of performance, like doing more classical stuff or being a part of a choir, it just stretches you in a different way, and doing more contemporary worship, it just helps you express yourself in another unique way. So, I think he really enjoys the diversity of it. I know he just loves being able to make music with other people that are passionate about making music.” 

And Dana brags a bit, saying with a smile, “And he’s got perfect pitch.” 

Mom says the whole experience of being able to go to Toronto has been great for Benjamin.  

“It's been really a ton of fun, especially like now that he's just really taking charge and wanting it. He's loved it all along, which has made it a fun experience.” 

Hiebert recalls one highlight from MusicFest was finding out that her son had auditioned to sing a solo at the event,  

“And that was unbelievable, because of the courage it took for him to raise his hand. I mean he was definitely one of the youngest in the choir, which ranges in age from 14 to 24. So, yeah, he was a newbie and he stepped up and he auditioned, and he ended up getting a solo.” 

Hiebert adds, “I'm just so proud of him, you know, for putting himself out there, because I think it just takes a lot of guts to do that kind of thing. I just feel like it's such a vulnerable thing, right? To share your voice with the world. It's really awesome just to see your kid do something that they love and then see them excel in it. It's super inspiring, and I just feel really proud of him for doing that.”

Dana (mom) - Dax (brother) - Benjamin and Jared (dad) Hiebert Dana (mom) - Dax (brother) - Benjamin and Jared (dad) Hiebert, at Ben's choir final performance in Toronto, at MusicFest 2024 (photo submitted) 

Photos below submitted by Dana Hiebert:

1. Picture with fellow choristers

2. Picture of the Ellison Canadian Honour Choir members of 2024

3. Ben performing a solo for one of the choir’s songs

4. Ben in front of his residence at the University of Toronto