The Sage Sound Singers at their Christmas concert in 2021. This year’s concert will be taking place on Saturday, Dec. 17, with performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Submitted)

The Sage Sound Singers at their Christmas concert in 2021. This year’s concert will be taking place on Saturday, Dec. 17, with performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Submitted)

Sage Sound Singers’ Christmas concert honours very special person

‘Here Comes the Sun: A Beatles Christmas’ pays tribute to Ashcroft resident Gerry Wong

The Sage Sound Singers are inviting everyone to their annual winter concert on Dec. 17, which this year features a very special tribute to a longtime Ashcroft resident and friend of the choir.

“Here Comes the Sun: A Beatles Christmas” features a number of songs by The Beatles, who were a favourite of the late Gerry Wong. Michelle Reid, the choir’s musical director and conductor, says that the songs were all chosen as a memorial to Gerry.

“I knew Gerry for 40 years at least, and it goes back to singing Beatles songs around the campfire or kitchen table with him,” she says. “Whenever we got together it was always guitars and the Beatles. I thought we needed something different this year, so we wanted to honour him.”

Reid adds that Gerry was a huge help to the choir over the years, and assisted her with projects like the music for the theatre production of My Fair Lady in 2015.

“If I needed help with the sound, Gerry was there. I’d ask him if we needed more amps or more mics, say to him ‘What do you think?’. He was a genius with all that stuff, and we miss him terribly.”

She adds that he sang a lot of Beatles songs, so she tried to pick as many of his favourites as she could, bearing in mind that she had to find choral arrangements that the choir could sing. She says that one of the songs will contain a special tribute.

“There will be a special spot in the program when everyone in the choir will light a tea light and sing one of Gerry’s favourites.”

The Beatles songs will occupy the first half of the concert. Following an intermission, which will feature goodies supplied by the choir members, the Shine on Singers Children’s Choir, which started earlier this year under the direction of musician Theresa Takacs, will perform four pieces.

“There will be about 10 minutes of singing,” says Reid. “I’m so very pleased to present them to the community. It’s a good start for the choir. I was singing in competitions by the time I was six, and it’s important that music becomes an outlet for the creativity of children.”

After that the Sage Sound Singers will return to perform some Christmas music. Reid says the choir, now in its 13th year, will sing some new pieces, as well as some old favourites: “We have 18 people in the choir now, and they sound really good.”

Almost all the members come from Ashcroft and Cache Creek, although Reid notes that one singer comes from Clinton and another from Kamloops. Accompanist Dimiter Terziev, who has been with the Singers for 11 years, also drives in weekly from Kamloops.

The choir has been rehearsing once a week as a group since September, with private rehearsals for anyone who needs to work out some wrinkles. “It’s quite an ambitious program. The Beatles are not easy to sing.”

Reid says that after the concert the choir as a whole will be taking a bit of a break for the spring. However, eight or nine of the members, including Reid, will be taking part in an international music performance at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall in June 2023, and will continue meeting weekly to rehearse for that.

The group Reid is directing also includes singers from Clearwater, Vernon, and Kamloops: 36 people in total, who all come to Ashcroft once a week. They have been rehearsing together since April, with time off in the summer and for much of the fall, but will be back at work in January, when rehearsals will alternate weekly between Ashcroft and Kamloops.

“We’re part of an ensemble of 100 voices from around the province,” explains Reid. “Everyone is learning the same two pieces, by Canadian composer Imant Raminsh, and they’re eight-part harmony and very well-written but very challenging. It’s a pretty demanding rehearsal schedule, but I’m very proud of them all.”

“Here Comes the Sun: A Beatles Christmas” will be at the Ashcroft HUB for two performances (at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) on Saturday, Dec. 17. Tickets are $15 each (no charge for those 18 and under), and are available at the HUB and online at https://bit.ly/3FrXqfP; tickets will also be available at the door for both performances.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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