Teri Dunn, Dean of Choral Studies at St. Michael’s Choir School, takes the boys through rehearsal prior to the annual Christmas Concert at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. Photo by Michael Swan

‘Dream’ is coming true at Christmas concert

  • November 29, 2019

Christmas dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them go from pianissimo to fortissimo and hit every note from bass to soprano.

For Early Escueta, her son’s first Christmas concert with the St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall is the perfect Christmas dream.

“This is my dream for my son,” Escueta told The Catholic Register. “I said one day, if I have a boy, I want my son to sing with the St. Mike’s Choir School. This is it. It’s happened. I can’t wait to watch them in Roy Thomson Hall.”

Escueta’s son, Lucas McIntyre, is a Grade 3 soprano who will be surrounded by dozens of his fellow students and supported by the legendary St. Mike’s Choir School community of alumni, parents, teachers and staff when he walks into the 2,630-seat concert hall Dec. 8 to sing in the 80th annual St. Michael’s Choir School Christmas Concert.

“He’s so happy. He’s so thrilled. He’s very proud of his school,” said Escueta. “He’s very excited for the concert.”

That’s exactly how Paul Lacalamita remembers it. The president of the St. Michael’s Choir School Alumni Association recalls how preparing for the annual Christmas concert used to propel him through life from Grade 3 to Grade 13 at the choir school. 

“From beginning in Grade 3, definitely we knew we were doing something special and it felt good,” said Lacalamita.

“As a young choir boy, it seemed natural that you would be singing. You were surrounded by others doing the same thing. It felt right, it felt good.”

There’s still a little choir boy left in Lacalamita and he’s looking forward to singing with the Alumni Choir again at this year’s concert. But he’s even more pleased to be singing with the youngest boys when the alumni and the boy sopranos team up on a couple of numbers.

Not only has Lacalamita continued singing, he’s continued selling concert tickets. 

“Back in the day, like 2,000 years ago, we all had to sell tickets to try and sell out our Massey Hall concerts. I remember the ticket prices were two, three and four dollars, depending on which seat and availability you still had,” Lacalamita said. “There was, of course, all kinds of incentivizing — incentive programs for the kids to sell tickets. So, I mean, I look at that and compare it to the reputation that the choir school has now. I think it’s just become a mainstay of Christmas, of seasonal repertoire and the stellar reputation that the concert provides its listeners.”

So even though he gets in for free as a performer, Lacalamita is buying tickets for his family and urging everyone to get in on one of the great Toronto Christmas traditions. 

This year’s concert features special guests the True North Brass. Ticket prices range from $59.50 to $89.50.

Spread out over all the school choirs and the alumni, the tradition of Christmas music gets a full airing at the annual concert, Lacalamita said. 

“It’s really a benefit to Toronto society and abroad to have these kids sing, for sure,” he said.

For Escueta and her two children, Lucas and his little sister Leann, the Roy Thomson Hall concert is just the beginning of a magical season.

“We’re looking forward to our Christmas party. We’re looking forward to Christmas at St. Mike’s Cathedral. I have volunteered there for a long time. They’re going to sing there, too,” she said. “December for me is very special because of Christmas. It’s my favourite occasion.”

Like any other kid, Lucas looks forward to Christmas morning and presents under the tree.

“He wants Lego. He loves Lego,” said Escueta. “He has a lot of Lego, but he still wants to have Lego — extreme Lego.”

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