Michael Marsland (left) and Galen Boulanger (right) both earned Royal Conservatory of Music gold medals this year under the guidance of vocal teacher Mathilde Klassen (middle).

High honour for young Nelson singers

A pair of Nelson vocal students has achieved an impressive honour that puts them in elite company.

A pair of Nelson vocal students has achieved an impressive honour that puts them in elite company.

Earlier this year Galen Boulanger and Michael Marsland were awarded Royal Conservatory of Music gold medals for their success in provincial vocal exams they took last spring.

“It’s a huge achievement for both of them,” said Mathilde Klassen, the Nelson voice teacher who has been working with the young singers.

Royal Conservatory medals are awarded to music students in all disciplines. It requires a mark of 90 per cent or more on provincial exams that include both practical and theory tests.

This is the second year in a row 16-year-old Boulanger has won a provincial medal. Achieving such an honour is rare and to do it twice in a row is considered exceptional.

“The Grade 6 exam was a big step up from the Grade 5 exam, so I was just happy to get to where I was,” Boulanger said humbly.

Boulanger has been on stage with the local summer youth program at the Capitol Theatre, is in the L.V. Rogers school band and plays rep soccer. Fitting singing lessons and exams into his busy schedule is difficult, but the teenager said it’s worth it.

“The theory and book work helps your singing a lot,” said the Grade 10 LVR student. “And it’s something to work towards with your singing.”

Marsland earned his gold medal in his first crack at a Royal Conservatory exam. The 15-year-old has been working with Klassen for three years and packed five years worth of theory into his effort with the Grade 5 exam.

“I didn’t really know how I was going to do because it was my first time,” said the Grade 9 LVR student.

“The last two weeks before the exam was pretty stressful, but it was really a piece by piece process getting there.”

Like Boulanger, Marsland is a busy guy with guitar lessons and as a member of the high school junior basketball team.

Earlier this spring Marsland sang at a festival in Cranbrook and was chosen to attend the provincial music festival in classical singing that took place last week in Chilliwack.

In her many decades of teaching Nelson area students the fundementals of voice and speech, Klassen has seen her students achieve 17 medals. Impressive numbers when you consider there are only a select few who actually make the 90-plus grade.

“We compete against the giants of Vancouver and the Okanagan,” said Klassen.

“But then again, there are a lot of good things that come out of Nelson.”

Klassen’s students are currently working hard in preparation for this year’s Royal Conservatory exams that take place at the end of the month.