Christmas —’tis the season to be jolly, for many; but for others, not so much (think “Grinch”!). Perhaps … just maybe … a little balance to the celebrating is in order?
This year on Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, the Whitehorse Community Choir will take the stage, at the Yukon Arts Centre, to present a concert featuring a varied selection of songs to celebrate the season, with humorous pieces about coping with Christmas, as well as some more traditional offerings.
For many people who attend these choral performances, the Christmas concert marks the official start to the Christmas season.
Not long after the choir finishes its spring season in early May, each year, musical director Barbara Chamberlin begins to turn her mind to Christmas music. During the summer, she combs through more than 50 pieces of music in the choral library, goes through her personal music selections, explores online sheet music services and consults with her choir expert in Vancouver. Once she has chosen the music, she orders new pieces for the choir to present. Each year’s offering has an overall theme, but she always adds in some unusual pieces to come up with an eclectic range of songs that is sure to contain something for everyone.
Beside such traditional offerings as the “Hallelujah Chorus” and “In the Bleak Midwinter,” this year’s concert includes such comedic offerings as “Don’t Be a Jerk! It’s Christmas,” “Christmas Shopping Blues: The Lesser Joys of Christmas,” “Santa’s Gettin’ Sued,” and “Fairytale of New York.” Also featured are a couple of traditional songs that will be sung in Latin. In other words, everyone should find something to their liking.
The concert always features solos by choir members, and in some years, guest musicians accompany the choir. This year there will be a special treat, a performance by young dancers from the Northern Lights School of Dance.
As in past years, the concert features performances by the main choir, which is composed of about 70 members, the Persephone Singers (an auditioned choir for women) and the a cappella Chamber Choir (also an auditioned choir). All these choirs begin practising in early September for the Christmas concert.
Many members return to sing in the choir, year after year, some rejoin after taking off one or more seasons, and there are always new members who come to try it out. In order to encourage new participants, the choir offers potential members the chance to attend the first session or two before they commit to joining up and attending weekly practices on Mondays and on one Sunday per month.
“We encourage newer members to seek out more-experienced choristers and ask questions,” said Chamberlin. “The first few practices always include some form of get-to-know-you exercises. With a choir this size, the various sections, especially the sopranos and altos, can be quite large, which makes it more challenging to get to know everyone.”
In addition to performing in the Christmas concert, choir members can be found singing Christmas carols around town as part of the Carolling Choristers fundraising efforts that have taken place in December over the past several years. Choristers sing at a number of continuing-care homes and the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, and have been known to show up at locations, such as the Commissioner of Yukon’s Christmas Open House (December 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Taylor House) and Wykes Your Independent Grocers, to spread Christmas cheer. Look for them at an event near you, and feel free to sing along!
Tickets for the 2018 Christmas concert are now on sale at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office or online at yukontickets.com.