- Our Town
The Making of a Bowen Island Community Choir Christmas Concert
“Blast this Christmas music. It’s joyful and triumphant.”
— The Grinch, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
On Saturday, December 14th, the Bowen Island Community Choir (BICC) will host their 22nd annual Christmas concert at Cates Hill Chapel. The choir offers you the choice of two concerts: one at 2 pm and one at 7:30 pm.
Some say the festivities and preparations leading up to Christmas are as much a part of the joy as the actual day. The same could be said for the preparation of a BICC Christmas concert.
Without knowing what blend of voices she will have to work with, Musical Director Ellen MacIntosh chooses and orders the music mid-August to ensure it arrives in time for the first rehearsal. The selection is a wonderful collection of traditional sounds (some with a twist), as well as contemporary pieces. In September, approximately 55 Bowen Islanders register for the choir and begin attending weekly practices. During the following three and half months, Ellen uses her superb talent to teach, coax and magically sculpt these Bowen voices into beautiful blended harmony.
It’s interesting to note that not all choir members read music. No problem. The ever-efficient BICC Board of Directors has a solution. Choir member, Bonney McDowell, utilizes a special program to play and record each song with the various individual sections (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) highlighted. Thanks to Google Drive and Communications Director Davina Haisell, the music can be downloaded so it’s easy to sing along with, as well as learn the rhythm and timing connected with the lyrics. Members burn their own CD and practise anywhere they can – in the car on the ferry is a particular favourite. In addition, a rotating schedule is arranged, whereby every week one of each of the soprano, alto, tenor and bass sections meets prior to the regular rehearsal to review and practise their specific parts.
Behind any successful musical director is a skilled rehearsal and performance accompanist. The choir is fortunate to be working with uber-talented Sheilagh Sparks. After eating dinner on the run from ferry to chapel each week, Sheilagh sits at the piano and assists the musical director, playing anything from straight through a song, to repeating specific bars or individual notes. The musical accompaniment can be challenging on some songs, but not for Sheilagh, whose playing and sight-reading ability is legendary.
The concert date approaches. The Board has met to tie up loose ends. Risers, stage platforms, lighting, sound and recording of the concert have been organized. A home baking sign-up sheet has been circulated to prepare for the concession. Tickets are on sale at Cates Pharmacy ($15 for adults, $12 for seniors/students, and $5 for children 6-12) and posters are up. Ellen chooses the final sequence of songs and the program goes to designer Janis Treleaven for layout (she did the poster too) and then to print.
On Friday, there will be a dress rehearsal that will include guest soloist - Lynn Williams and bass/percussionist Brian Hoover. In the background, Master of Ceremonies Graham Ritchie looks over the program lineup and starts to formulate his ever-witty jokes and stories. And tomorrow…showtime!
The Bowen Island Community Choir invites you to join us for song and celebration as we take the stage for our 2013 Christmas concert. Who knows...now that you’ve had the backstage tour, you may even consider signing up for our spring season!