Westmount Park Samba Band kicks off the holidays with a festival of lights
On December 17, Westmount Park South campus in Ville Émard celebrated the holiday season with a high-energy samba music sing-along with the Westmount Samba Band. The 29-member choir and percussion group spent their lunchtime over the past few months preparing for the big event with music teacher Simon Radu, who takes every opportunity to teach his students about different cultures and customs through music.
Students and staff sang along to favourites like Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Feliz Navidad and Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, all performed in “batucada” (a substyle of samba) style. It was a challenge for the audience to sit still with the beats of the surdo and cajon drums, maracas, agogo bells and keyboard (played by Radu).
Special guest Cantor and Rabbi Daniel Benlolo addressed the students, letting them know how special they are. “Each one of us in this room is a light. My message may be simple, but it’s so important for each one of you to feel that you…you are important, and you need to give us this light into this world. As we enter the holiday of Christmas, as we enter the holiday of Chanukah, as we enter all the holidays coming up for each religion and faith, we have to embrace them and say, ‘you are my brothers and you are my sisters.’”
Cantor Benlolo and Mr. Radu ended the event with Ocho Kandelikas sung in Spanish and John Lennon’s Imagine, which had everybody swaying and singing.
Radu’s mission was to educate his students about the different holidays, help them to feel connected with each other and give them something special for the holidays. Mission accomplished!
See The Montreal Gazette story: https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/christmas-hanukkah-spirit-infused-with-latin-rhythm-at-school-concert