Jorge Hidalgo wasn’t sure if he would be able to complete his Master of Music in conducting at the University of Manitoba’s (U of M) Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music. The Argentinean-born student came to Winnipeg from Paraguay in 2009 to study choral conducting. “Because of my financial situation, I was not sure how long I’d be able to do the program.”
Now 29 and the father of a 14-month-old son, Hidalgo credits the Henry Engbrecht Graduate Fellowship (HEGF) with allowing him to complete his studies and go on to his chosen career. Hidalgo received the award in 2010 and 2011. “It was a huge help and now I am able to finish the program in two years.”
The Winnipeg choir, Canzona, has donated $30,000 to the HEGF, a healthy investment in the future of choral music in Canada and beyond. Initiated in the 2006-2007 academic year, the fellowship annually supports up-and-coming choral conductors enrolled full-time in the Master of Music Conducting Program at the U of M’s Faculty of Music.
It is named in honour of Henry Engbrecht, former Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the U of M and the founding conductor of Canzona, now in its 23rd season. The funds for this donation come from profits made from Canzona's sales of their three CDs of German Mennonite hymns.
“Both the choir and the board felt that the HEGF is an extremely worthy cause,” said Canzona’s Board President, Kirsten Schellenberg. “We wanted to support the work of the University of Manitoba in preparing young conductors to reach the highest level of skill and professional preparedness.”
The HEGF is already reaping results in the global choral community. Hidalgo has a full time teaching assistant position lined up at CEMTA, the Evangelical Mennonite Centre for Theology of Asuncion in Paraguay, when he completes his degree, helping spread the Manitoba choral tradition far and wide.