Student quartet feels the music

Oct 02, 2003, vol. 28, no. 3
By Julie Ovenell-Carter



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There are two great musical moments at convocation: the piping in of the procession, and the singing of the national anthem.

Over the years, there's been plenty of light shone on SFU's award-winning pipe band, but just who are those capable crooners who lead us through O Canada?

Since 1997, computing science student Chris Demwell has carried the musical maple leaf all by himself at 13 ceremonies, but this year he'll share the job with three student colleagues: Heather Androsoff, Elizabeth Enns, and Rachelle Ferguson.

Demwell, who will graduate next spring, started his musical career as a pianist at age 10. Later, he sang with his North Delta high school choir. He joined the SFU choir shortly after entering the university in 1996, and when ceremonies director Marilyn Pankratz came looking for an anthem singer, Demwell volunteered for the job.

“It's a nice way for me to give back to the campus community,” he says. “I really enjoy being part of everybody's special occasion. There's something tribal about singing anthems. You really feel the collective pride.”

Like Demwell, Androsoff, a fourth year English student, played piano and sang in a school choir. “For a long time I did music and sports - I was always annoying my piano teacher by showing up with sprained fingers from volleyball - but eventually I had to make a choice.”

The Burnaby native chose sports, and came to SFU in 2000 on a volleyball scholarship. But when a technology failure scuttled the playing of a recorded version of O Canada at her first away game, Androsoff stepped up to sing and she has been leading the anthem before games ever since.

Enns, currently enrolled in education's professional development program (PDP), has also sung at sporting events. “In 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays went to the world series. I heard some man singing the anthem and I said to myself, ‘I could do that.' I was 12. So I called up the local Ontario Hockey League team and suggested that they interview me for singing O Canada because it was better than an old organ. I got the job and sang every week for a season and a half.”

At this month's convocation ceremonies, Enns will share the microphone with Ferguson, her PDP peer and fellow graduand. (Both women will receive a bachelor of arts degree.) Since 2001, Enns, Ferguson, and Ferguson's sister, Elizabeth, have performed throughout the Lower Mainland with their jazz trio, The Fireflies.

All four singers admit to riding a wave of emotion when they sing the anthem. “I've always been proud of my home,” says Androsoff, “and I hope the people I sing for and with will share that pride.”

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