The Georgia Straight

Arts groups bring some musical warmth to holidays

- By Steve Newton

Seven Vancouver arts organizati­ons will bring joy to local music fans with in-person performanc­es this holiday season. Please note: COVID-19 protocols set in place by the current Provincial Heath Orders include proof of vaccinatio­n and the use of masks.


Starting things off on November 30 is the performanc­e by the Vancouver Bach Choir of Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas at the Orpheum Theatre. The cantata will feature the Bach Choir and children’s choirs, the VSO School of Music Sinfoniett­a, pianists Stephen Smith and Kin Ming Wong, and tenor soloist Asitha Tennekoon.

“It’s literally based on the saint who is the inspiratio­n for Santa Claus,” the choir’s music director, Leslie Dala, told the Straight in a phone call. “And we’re partnering for the very first time with the Sinfoniett­a, which is a very high-level youth orchestra. It’s kind of perfect because Britten wrote it for a number of schools celebratin­g an anniversar­y, so the premiere was actually performed almost exclusivel­y by young people.”


The next day, on December 1, the Vancouver Symphony kicks the holiday vibe into high gear with the first show of its Traditiona­l Christmas series, which is hosted by Bard on the Beach’s Christophe­r Gaze and takes place at various Lower Mainland locations. December 1 will see two shows at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre; December 2 has a stop at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre; December 3 has two performanc­es at West Van’s Kay Meek Centre; December 4 brings two shows to New Westminste­r’s Massey Theatre; and then on December 18 and 19, the VSO returns to its home base of the Orpheum Theatre.

Other VSO holiday concerts at the Orpheum include The Nutcracker on December 9, with Gaze hosting selections from Tchaikovsk­y’s masterpiec­e; A Dee Daniels Christmas, featuring the Vancouver jazz diva, on December 10 and 11; a kids’ concert on December 12 featuring the Oscarnomin­ated animated film The Snowman; and Home Alone in Concert, where the comedy classic is screened with a live performanc­e of John Williams’s score by the symphony, on December 16 and 17.

And the Vancouver Symphony will carry on a VSO holiday tradition at the Chan Centre on December 17 and 18, when violin soloist Lara St. John leads the orchestra in a performanc­e of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.


On December 5, the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir, led by music director Jonathan Quick, will perform its Sing We Now of Christmas program at Massey Theatre, a joint concert with Winter Harp, where classical and Celtic harps combine with flutes, violin/fiddle, rare medieval instrument­s, percussion, poetry, and song. On December 7, the VWMC will be joined at the Surrey Arts Centre by flutist Paolo Bortolussi and mezzo-soprano Taryn Plater; on December 13 at South Delta Baptist Church, Bortolussi and soprano Skye Wilkinson will perform, along with members of the South Delta Secondary School Choir, who will perform their own set of carols. The final performanc­e of Sing We Now of Christmas will take place on December 16 at Centennial Theatre, where Wilkinson, saxophonis­t Julia Nolan, and members of the Argyle Secondary School choir will join in.


On December 11, the Universal Gospel Choir performs We Rise Again, The Magic of Yule at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Directed by Lonnie Delisle and featuring the UGC Band, the program includes seasonal favourites (“Joy to the World”, “Ave Maria”), inspiratio­nal pop anthems (“This Is Me”, “A Beautiful Noise”), soulful world music, and get-up-and-groove gospel tunes.


On December 15 at the Chan Centre, Symphony 21 presents a performanc­e of Tchaikovsk­y’s Nutcracker Suite in its full orchestral glory, with additional selections from the ballet. Alongside this seasonal favourite, the Jaelem Bhate Jazz Orchestra, a full-sized big band, will perform Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s arrangemen­ts of the Nutcracker.


On December 17 at Pacific Spirit United Church the Vancouver Chamber Choir under conductor Kari Turunen will offer Wassail, its holiday concert featuring English carols both old and new, as well as a performanc­e of Benjamin Britten’s masterwork, A Boy Was Born.

“Britten was only a teenager when he wrote A Boy Was Born,” reads the event info on the VCC website, “an ambitious cycle of variations on a simple melody that guides listeners through many styles and characters from breathtaki­ng beauty to explosive joy. The music showcases Britten’s precocious talent, skilled beyond his years.”


Also on December 17, and continuing on December 18 and 20, is the Chor Leoni Men’s Choir’s Christmas With Chor Leoni, which takes place at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.

Joining the choir in a program that includes such seasonal faves as “Deck the Halls”, “Winter Wonderland”, and “Hark,

the Herald Angels Sing” will be violinist Cameron Wilson, pianists Tina Chang and Karen Lee-Morlang, and guitarist Keith Sinclair.

“It’s our biggest event of the season,” Chor Leoni artistic director Erick Lichte told the Straight by phone. “I’m just so excited to bring people together for that time, and I think after this time apart from one another, it’s gonna feel particular­ly sweet. We’ve got a really fun program, and one with a lot of beauty and a lot of heart as well.”

Lichte pointed out that the choir’s version of “Silent Night” is not to be missed.

“Especially the way we do it,” he said, “where the choir typically surrounds our audience with candles and we sing that piece together. And there is again something about that connection that you feel at that time of the year. I’m so excited to do that, especially in our new space at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church. They’ve renovated that church—it’s been a three-year renovation—and the space was always gorgeous, but it is even more beautiful now. So having that celebratio­n of the season in that room has always been a very special thing for me, and that song is, I think, the quintessen­tial one for that experience.” g

 ?? ?? Bard on the Beach artistic director Christophe­r Gaze joins the Vancouver Symphony to host its Traditiona­l Christmas series, with shows in Surrey, New West, and at three Vancouver venues.
Bard on the Beach artistic director Christophe­r Gaze joins the Vancouver Symphony to host its Traditiona­l Christmas series, with shows in Surrey, New West, and at three Vancouver venues.
 ?? ?? Chor Leoni artistic director Erick Lichte is a big fan of his choir’s version of “Silent Night”.
Chor Leoni artistic director Erick Lichte is a big fan of his choir’s version of “Silent Night”.

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