A group of Windsor Essex youth theatre performers and singers have come together online to sing in a video dedicated to front line healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The video was spearheaded by Leamington’s Siena Pacheco who took the time for an interview with Eyes On Windsor to talk about it.
I understand that you’re a singer, theatre performer, and play the piano? Tell me a little about yourself when it comes to these arts. How did you get started and at what age?
I’ve been involved in the arts since I can even remember. I started taking piano lessons at the age of 4 and voice at the age of 7, starting theatre a year later. I’ve grown up with all the arts in my life. The arts have allowed me to create the friends that I am singing with today and many more. Community theatre, singing, jazz band at school is really central to my life.
What theatre groups and shows have you been involved with?
I have been in a variety of shows and operas with different companies around the area such as Abridged Opera, Little Tomato Children’s Theatre, Sun Parlour Players, my high school l’Essor and more. Some of my favourite roles would include Cinderella in Into the Woods (L’Essor), Mrs Winnifred Banks in Mary Poppins Jr (Migration Hall), Pepíček in Brundibar (Music Moves Kids) and most recently the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Little Tomato Children’s Theatre). This year I was looking forward to playing Alice in The Addams Family (L’Essor), l’Enfant in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (Abridged Opera) and Elsa’s understudy in Frozen Jr. (LTCT). Both L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Frozen Jr are currently being postponed for 2021.
Each role has taught me something new about myself and something new about my personality. My friends and I are happy to know that we can go somewhere where we don’t have to change who we are and can’t just embrace ourselves. If theatre has taught us anything, it’s that you are the director of your own show in life and only you can decide on it’s ending. These types of productions have given us more role models, teachers and friendship that we will treasure forever.
Tell me a little about your singing background?
I have been with Music Moves Kids for about ten years. This company has brought many incredible people into my life including my voice teacher, Erin Armstrong. Studying under this incredible mezzo-soprano, Erin has trained me in voice pedagogy, operatic performance, classical voice and music theatre. On the theatre side of my life, Stephanie Allen-Santos and Becca Silvius have mentored me in this art form. Stephanie has given me the tools necessary to transform into any character that is thrown my way and Becca has helped me navigate my clumsy feet into her beautiful choreography. My music teacher at school, Gabrielle Papineau, has also inspired me to learn seven jazz instruments. I also take piano lessons with Carmele Quinn where I will be completing my grade 8 RCM in August.
Erin Armstrong, Stephanie Allen-Santos, Becca Silvius, Gabrielle Papineau and Carmele Quinn have become instrumental in my life and are my biggest role models.
How did you come up with the idea to make a video dedicated to front line workers?
Well, basically about four weeks ago, shortly after COVID-19 started to become a bigger threat, I realized that singing in person with my friends wouldn’t be possible anymore. But then, when my voice teacher Erin Armstrong started doing virtual duets and group songs with her students for our Music Moves Kids studio, my friends and I decided that even though times are tough, we need to keep singing… together. Going into the project, we wanted it to be a dedication towards every front line worker in our community.
What is your purpose for the video or the message/meaning behind it?
COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our society and life as we know it. So, going into the project, we wanted it to be a dedication towards every front line worker in our community. My friends and I have realized the efforts that have gone into helping our community rehabilitate from this devastating disease. Like the video says, “we dedicate this to every front line worker who serves our communities and keeps us healthy. We see you. We thank you. We celebrate you.”
Why did you choose the song You Will Be Found?
Picking a song was easy, all of the singers in the video, being immersed in the theatre world, are familiar with You Will Be Found from the hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. It was just the appropriate song choice for these rough times. This song allows us to connect with the loneliness felt by the front line workers as they try to navigate through the situation, with the goal being to make sure everyone who has to suffer though Covid-19, makes it home to their loved ones. We chose this song to help keep smiles on the faces of our community members and especially our front line workers.
What was the process of putting it together?
My friends and I are doing all we can to do our part. The singers in the video are Patricia Arndt (Windsor), Brooke Dominguez (Leamington), Elise Holbrook (Windsor/Leamington), Emily Le Claire (Kingsville), Madeline Mastronardi (Kingsville), Emma McDonald (Windsor), Alexia Pacheco (Leamington), myself Siena Pacheco (Leamington), Hayley Romanyk (Leamington), Abigail Wearne (Wheatley) and Jordan Youssef (Leamington).
When the idea to make a video first came to me, I simply just made a group chat with a bunch of my friends from past shows, choir, our current show, ect. I put out the idea and the response back was overwhelming. That is what makes this video so special, we are able to stay connected with our community and each other while being apart. Dealing with long distance learning, and the fact that many of us are graduating grade 12 in June, we needed to feel that we were a part of something greater…something more positive than COVID-19. The response from my friends made it so much more heart warming especially as the weeks went on as I was putting all the voices tracks and video layers together.
To put the video together, I first had to find an instrumental track on YouTube to send to the singers for them to record their parts. After receiving all their videos, I extracted their voices to put into a program called Logic Pro X to combine them into one song. After that process was complete, I then had to export the video into iMovie, to reinsert the faces to the audio track, text, photos and video clips to finish the video completely.
Many of the signers in the video are still working from home and in the community. One of our singers is a front line worker herself, Emma McDonald, she is 1 of 4 cashiers out of 30 at her store that decided that she was going to try and help to do all possible during this crisis. The amount of courage and dedication that my friends have shown is what makes this video even more special.
Are the photos and video clips of healthcare workers in your video all from the Windsor Essex area?
All of the pictures except for two. When I made the video, I asked my friends if they had any family or friends that they wanted to include. One is Abigail Wearne’s aunt from Grosse Ile Michigan at Providence Hospital and the other is Alexia Pacheco and I’s aunt from Mississauga at Trillium Health Care. The rest of the photos and video clips are of healthcare workers from the Windsor Essex area. This includes Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Health Care in Leamington.
What have been people’s responses to the video?
The response to our video has been completely amazing. We have about 150 views on Youtube! We knew that the video would touch a lot of heart, but the response back has been unbelievable. The amount of shares and texts from people in the community has allowed us to know that our message is getting through to the front line workers.
Have any healthcare workers seen and reacted to the video?
Yes, we have had a variety of healthcare workers reach out to us after watching our video, including lab technicians and nurses. One person in particular, being a former nurse, sent the link to her nurse friends and she said their reaction was completely grateful. My friends and I are beyond happy to know that we have touched many hearts around the community of Windsor-Essex area and greater.
I understand that you are about to graduate from high school and some of your theatre performances have been cancelled / postponed. Tell me about this and what other ways the pandemic has changed your life?
In Frozen Jr, I was playing Elsa’s understudy as well as a part of the dance team. Frozen Jr was well underway when it became more apparent that COVID-19 would not make it possible for the show to continue it’s run. The majority of the singers in the video were either a part of Frozen Jr or other community productions at the time, and although it is devastating, especially for the graduating seniors, we know that it is completely necessary to ensure everyone’s safety. Theatre and singing has always been something that my friends and I have truly been passionate about and Little Tomato Children’s Theatre has been a part of all of our journeys.
Most of us have been making videos of ourselves singing individually to try to keep busy. We find that music has allowed us to stay connected. We are grateful that we get to share our passions with the community, friends and family even though we can’t physically be with them at a time like this. We are all staying home, staying safe, trying to keep busy. We are all very excited for the day that we can get back out into the community and continue to give back to those who have helped us so much.
What are your plans in the future?
After graduating in June, I will be attending Carleton University in the fall. I will be studying in their Bachelor of Global and International Studies Honours Program focused in global politics as well as a minor in Music.