Timbre! Choir presents

Timbre! Choir presents Yuletide Favourites

This coming Sunday, Dec 11 at 2:30 pm in the ADSS Auditorium the Timbre! Choir presents their annual Christmas concert. The concert has traditionally been one of the Alberni Valley’s most popular musical events of the holiday season. 

This year my wife Pat as musical director has chosen a potpourri of both old and new carols. Excerpts from Messiah by Handel will hold its traditional place in the program alongside such new compositions as Faith Hill’s very popular A Baby Changes Everything, which will be sung by soloist Michelle Weckesser backed by the choir. Some carols from the famous British composer John Rutter have been programmed. Other soloists include Stacie Panton, Lynn Beamond, Ron Barker and Counter-tenor Allan McPherson.

Tickets are now available at Rollin Arts Centre, Echo Centre, Somass Drugs, Salmonberry’s and at the door. Check out Timbre!’s website at www.timbrechoir.com 

Accompanist for the concert will be Vancouver pianist Sarah Hagen.  Hagen is a sought-after soloist and chamber musician who has performed in concerts across Canada as well as in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Sweden.  Closer to home, in 2006 she was awarded as the Comox Valley's Cultural Ambassador of the Year and has been on faculty at the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre for over 10 years. 

Christmas time is music time

This time of year, as has been the case for decades, represents a very busy time for me in my chosen profession of music. The musical roller coaster always kicks into gear around Remembrance Day when for 35 years I put together school bands to play the Legion sponsored ceremonies held in Port Alberni’s ADSS Auditorium. Since retiring 13 years ago I’ve continued to be involved in a musical capacity on Remembrance Day by playing a dance with the Arrowsmith Big Band in the Canadian Legion Hall in Parksville. However, the tradition was severed this year when a windstorm whipped through the Oceanside area causing the power to fail just before the event got underway. The Legion Hall had to close down for the remainder of the day losing, I would guess, one of their most lucrative days for lounge revenue. 

The months of November and December always issue in a host of concerts for all performing organizations and I love to take in as many as I can shoe-horn into my own schedule. One took place on November 19th when Pat and I hopped aboard an afternoon ferry to the mainland so we could catch the premier performance of a new chamber version of Vancouver composer Larry Nickel’s inspiring Requiem for Peace. Pat had been invited to the performance having known Larry for many years through choral workshops he’d done for Timbre! and her former Teen Choir in Port Alberni. Timbre! had also performed many of his compositions including the first commissioning he’d ever received.  

Requiem for Peace was a re-working of a composition that Larry had written for full symphony orchestra and concert choir as a doctor of musical arts candidate in composition at the UBC School of Music several years ago. In the performance we attended at the Chan Centre, the Vancouver Chamber Choir under the direction of Jon Washburn presented Requiem for Peace in cooperation with the UBC Museum of Anthropology’s powerfully moving exhibition "Hiroshima" by Miyako Ishiuchi, which featured 52 photographs of clothing and personal items belonging to victims at Hiroshima. The entire evening was truly inspiring.

Returning to the island the following day via an early morning ferry, I just had time to get to a performance I was playing with the Arrowsmith Big Band in Parksville and was thankful the ferry didn’t crunch the dock at Departure Bay as it had a few days before, cancelling a number of sailings.

Following our afternoon big band performance in Parksville, I scooted home to meet Pat and my brother Terry in order to make it in time to Nanaimo’s Port Theatre to attend a touring performance of the Vancouver Arts Club Theatre’s production of The Buddy Holly Story. Wow! What a high-octane show. Zachary Stevenson as Buddy Holly was fabulous, displaying relentless energy from bar 1 through to the final curtain.

The next day I was up at 5 am and driving over the hump through a light snowfall to Port Alberni in order to work aboard the Alberni Pacific Railway for a day of conductor training with students from BCIT. The APR is the favoured location for BCIT conductor practicums as it is a railway with mileage, unlike the other training location that the Burnaby based institution uses in Squamish where the students are limited to yard-work experience only. This day the weather was dreadful with a heavy cold rain mixed with periods of sleet. By day’s end the students were soaked to the bone, which definitely gave them an authentic feel of winter railroading. I was lucky, spending most of the day in the dry diesel locomotive cab as an extra pair of eyes on the fireman’s side for engineer Rollie Hurst.

PHOTOS ABOVE: BCIT students training to be conductors practice coupling cars and throwing switches in the McLean Mill rail yard.

Wrapping up the BCIT railroading day, it was back over the hump to Cedar, south of Nanaimo, to begin rehearsing for the Yellow Point Christmas Spectacular. This is my 5th Christmas playing piano for the production. After meeting the cast who hail from Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria, it was down to work preparing for a Preview Performance on December 7th and opening night on December 8th. There are 17 performances before closing on December 18. If you’re interested in attending you can check out the show’s website at www.yellowpointchristmasspectacular.ca