Sheila Braun, who has served as the accompanist for the Swift Current Oratorio Choir over the past 18 years, was presented an award for Outstanding Community Service by the Saskatchewan Choral Federation at the fall Saskatchewan Music Conference.
Sheila Braun was presented with an award for “Outstanding community Service” by the Saskatchewan Choral Federation at the Saskatchewan Music Convention banquet held on Nov. 4 in Regina. She was nominated for this award by the members of the Swift Current Oratorio Choir which she has accompanied for 18 years.
Accompanying the Oratorio Choir under the direction of John Poettcker from 1994 until 2003, and then with directors Marcia and Greg Mclean from 2004 until the present has been the most amazing privilege and honour for Sheila. She feels that she cannot begin to express her gratitude for their patience and support. She has learned so very much! Sheila has found that performing the spring concerts with the Regina Symphony Players and various professional soloists has always been a humbling experience.
During these 18 years she has had the joy of rehearsing with the choir and performing works such as Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, Rene Clausen’s “A New Creation”, Mozart’s “Requiem”, Mendellsohn’s “Hear My Prayer”and “Elijah”, Karl Jenkin’s “The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace”, Haydn’s “The Creation”, Handel’s “Messiah”, “Coronation Anthems” 1,2,3,4 and “Chandos Anthem #8”, John Rutter’s “Requiem”, Mozart’s “Te Deum”, “Missa Brevis K220” and “Coronation Mass”, Stainer’s “The Crucifixion” and Schubert’s “Mass in G.”
Music has always been a part of Braun's life. Being born into a musical family and married into an even more musical family, she has had the privilege of making music with her sisters, husband and daughters as well as playing together with her sister-in-law at church, for weddings, funerals and other special functions for many years. Upon arriving home from church when she was about four, she apparently would sit down at the piano and play the melody of songs that had been sung that morning. From age six to 14 she studied piano with Ada Kolot in Herbert, then attended Caronport High School, where she completed her Grade 8 piano. Having no other formal training, she is so tremendously grateful for all the opportunities others have given her to gain experience and knowledge through doing.
Sheila’s father did not play an instrument, but loved music and knew what he liked to hear. After supper, after a long day out on the “range” of their cattle ranch (her other love is horses, having started and trained hundreds of colts for people over the years), he would lie on the couch while her sister and she would have to take turns “serenading” him. If they did not play “legato” enough, he would let them know! She attributes that “scrutiny” of her playing, as well as her admiration of and the desire to emulate the playing of the late Dr. David Hildebrand of Briercrest Bible College, and the opportunities she had to play organ in services at Caronport and Swift Current for her growth as a keyboard player.
In 1987, Braun suddenly found herself as the church choir accompanist. About that same time, she was asked to accompany some children in the Swift Current Music Festival. For the next 20 plus years, accompanying mainly voice, but also numerous band students in festivals, became a huge part of her life. Accompanying for senior level students forced her to learn music that was beyond her level of training and she is so grateful for those opportunities that stretched her skills as a musician. One piece that stands out her mind is “Qui sedes ad dextera Patris” from Vivaldi’s Gloria. Oh how she practiced! That very summer, choral director, John Poettcker approached her to play for the Swift Current Oratorio Choir. She was replacing the huge shoes of Bev Dyck and saying yes to that was one of the scariest decisions of her life. Her most terrifying performance was accompanying the choir that fall of 1994. The work John Poettcker chose to perform was Vivaldi’s Gloria. The choir has since been performed it with the Regina Symphony Players, but that December, the piano was the orchestra. She says that she made it through that performance only by the prayers of many, but the fact that she had had to learn Que Sedes that spring was such a blessing because now, she had already mastered the most difficult piece in the work!
Sheila and her husband Kerry live on an acreage 20 kilometers northwest of Swift Current. Their three children, two of whom are married, all live in Swift Current.