The Evangeline School’s Arts and Culture class launched their new album, Des vieilles nouvelles in February. The recording project features eight high-school students performing classics from traditional and popular Acadian repertoires as well as songs popularized by some of Canada’s best songwriters.
“The students have really done excellent work,” says music teacher, Chuck Arsenault, former member of the Acadian musical group Barachois and project co-ordinator for the album. “One of the goals of the Arts and culture specialization is to give students practical experiences to reinforce the skills they learn. The students’ willingness to set goals, to do the work, to collaborate, and to stretch their musical abilities has allowed them to create six solid tracks of beautiful music. Their individual musical backgrounds and preferences, as well as their desire to help others have brought a good feeling to the music that will, no doubt, bring a smile to your face.”
One of the goals of the album is to raise funds for Tracy Arsenault. An Evangeline School alumni and bus driver, Arsenault was diagnosed with aggressive Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June 2020. “She is an amazing step-dancer, step-dancing teacher, aunt to Dawson and Gilbert Arsenault of our Arts and Culture class, and a very active member of the community,” says class member, Alyssa Gallant. “Tracy has done a lot for us and our school, and now it’s our turn to do something for her.”
Students featured on the album are: Amber Arsenault (piano, vocals, percussion); Dawson Arsenault (piano, lead-vocals, guitar); Gilbert Arsenault (fiddle, banjo, cello); Mia Bernard (bass, lead vocals); Briley Cameron (drums, percussion, vocals); Alyssa Gallant (mandolin, ukulele, vocals); Andraya Gallant (guitar, lead vocals); and Jaden McGinnis (drums, percussion, vocals).
An Evangeline School production, Des Vieilles Nouvelles was recorded and co-produced at the Goéland Centre by a trio of former Evangeline School students, Donald Richard, Rémi Arsenault and Maurice Hashie. Local musicians Patricia Richard, Albert Arsenault, Alice Bérubé and Josée Boudreau all helped the students craft the musical arrangements in class and in studio, while another Evangeline School alumnus, Megan Bergeron, of Fresh Start Digital, created the graphic design.