‘Yuletide in the Yukon’ Includes Stories


If voices alone could command Mother Nature, then by George it’d be snowing!

It’s Wednesday night and inside the Trinity Lutheran Church, a flurry of voices are singing the well-known Christmas tune, Let It Snow.

Lead by musical director, conductor and fellow choir member Barbara Chamberlin, the three-men, eight-women group of altos, sopranos, tenors and bassists, who also sing in the Whitehorse Community Choir, make up the local Chamber Choir which formed last January.

This singing ensemble, along with three other local singing groups — The WCC, The Persephone Singers and The Neptunes — are busy preparing and rehearsing for The WCC’s annual Christmas performance. This year it is titled, Yuletide in the Yukon.

“I think all the parts are there, so let’s talk about dynamics,” instructs Chamberlin from the piano after a rendition of composer Steven Chapman’s Dryad’s Bells. “When you make entries, I want you to exit softly.”

Chamberlin keeps the group in time while tapping her foot to the music and, although it appears as though she’s conducting, she says this specific chorale is “much more self-directed and independent” than the other groups.

Chamberlin, who has been directing the WCC for four years, conducts the three other choirs, but says with this group she can engage more of a singer role.

She says “the charm of the whole choir” is in the ever-present passion and watching singers, who in their first year might be learning and insecure, transform to completely confident crooners by their subsequent year.

“It’s a really good mixture,” Chamberlin says of the levels, “those who want to learn can do so from those ahead of them.”

The excitement in this year’s concert is the variety. Writer Dean Eyre was hired to research and write about the Yukon’s history for the performance, from “Dawson City and Haines Junction to all the places in between,” says Chamberlin.

Eyre has written eight stories which will be matched to songs and narrated by Mark Smith and Spence Hill in a story, song, story, song-type progression.

Local artists Kim Barlow, Steve Slade, Annie Avery, Lisa Turner as well as a Dawson City sixth grade class have also written pieces for the Yuletide in the Yukon presentation.

Chamberlin believes this year’s show to be more cohesive than past; the second half is filled with 1940s and 50s type songs such as Winter Wonderland and Waltz of the Flowers, which will be accompanied by the recently showcased Nutcracker dancers.

Choir members will also be joined on stage by accompanists Barry Kitchen and Cheryl Wishart.

After the Christmastime wrap-up, the choir groups will start the new year with opera and will be looking forward to workshops with The Nathaniel Dett Chorale from Toronto in the spring.

“If you can sing in the shower, then you can come out,” says tenor Larry Kwiat.

Chamberlin says studies prove that choir is good for you.

“It’s a stress reliever, it’s social, it keeps you from being depressed and it’s good for your soul,” she says.

Yuletide in the Yukon will be presented Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m., at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are available at Arts Underground and the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office.

PHOTO: BRENDAN PRESTON www.brendanpreston.com

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