Sage Sound Singers musical director Michelle Reid (centre, in black sweater) and choir member Jim Mertel (left) recently accepted a donation of $1,000 for the choir from Second Time Around volunteers. The annual Christmas concert is coming up on December 17.

Sage Sound Singers presenting a ‘White Christmas’ concert

However, musical director Michelle Reid says the show almost didn’t go on.

The Sage Sound Singers’ eighth annual Christmas concert, “White Christmas”, is going ahead; but choir director Michelle Reid says there were many times that she considered cancelling it.

Reid and her husband David lost their home at the Boston Flats Trailer Park to the Elephant Hill wildfire on July 7. Amongst the possessions lost were all the music Reid has collected over the years, including the sheet music from all the Sage Sound Singers concerts; her musical instruments; and her sound system.

“I had to start from scratch,” says Reid. “Two weeks after the fire I bought a piano, even though I had nowhere to put it. It stayed at Long and McQuade until we were able to replace our trailer. I took the bunks out of it and put my piano in there.”

She is glad she decided to go ahead with the concert. “Concentrating on music right now is important. I love being able to create, and being with friends is very important. It’s a form of therapy, and made me want to go ahead. It’s helped with the healing process, and I needed that. Others need that too.”

As with past concerts, this year’s will feature a mix of pieces from around the world: some old favourites, and some that are less well known. Reid says she ordered the music for the 17 members of the choir, and choir member Jim Mertel photocopied it for her and put the packages together, as Reid has not yet replaced her photocopier.

“I’m still missing a sound board and some equipment,” she adds. “I’m having to rent the rest [for the concert]. If I’d bought them they wouldn’t have been here in time.”

When asked if the Desert Bells Handbell Choir will be performing at the concert, Reid laughs. “Of course! They’ll be playing two pieces at the end of the first half, and two pieces at the beginning of the second half.”

Reid is already looking ahead to the spring 2018 concert, which will be called “Oh! Canada!” and will feature music from every province. “Music from people like Rita McNeil, Gordon Lightfoot, Burton Cumming, KD Lang, and Roch Voisine,” she says. “We’ll travel from province to province.”

She also hopes to be able to do a theatre production of the classic musical Paint Your Wagon, tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2019.

This year’s Christmas concert is, as always, by donation; but following the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society’s recent success at selling tickets online and at the HUB, Reid would like to move to that model in the future.

“The concerts take a lot of effort—that’s a given—and cost a lot of money to produce,” she notes.

When asked if she has any Christmas plans, Reid says “The concert is my Christmas. I hope that people come and enjoy ‘White Christmas’, enjoy the sense of community spirit. The community has suffered a tremendous trauma to the soul, and to material things. We need to pull together.”

The concert will take place at the Ashcroft HUB on Sunday, December 17 starting at 2 p.m., with an intermission where refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

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