The Epistle of Q — Chapter Fifty-Nine

How does the Okanagan get everyone ready for the Christmas season?

Well it all depends on what your preference is? Let me briefly relate two recent incidents that make living here a culturally enjoyable experience, on par with PEI.

Thursday evening I attended a rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. This is an interesting piece of literature, in that some claim this re-invented Christmas in a way that most of us now celebrate it. Whether that is exactly true or not, I’ll leave to other discussions; but there is no mistaking that it is a well thought out comment on what we need to be thinking about at Christmas time. For that reason alone I believe it is worth staging this play every so often.

Obviously Rev. Cross (minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Penticton) thinks so too as this production was put on by the St. Andrew’s Players. While it is a fund-raiser for the church and Colin does act in it, he makes sure that the really talented people are placed in proper roles. And this production does not deviate from that approach. The individuals playing Scrooge and Tiny Tim are brilliant in their parts and they form the glue that holds a well-acted drama together. These are not professionals, but it doesn’t take long for the story to take over the entire audience and you even forget that you are in a church. They take you back to the England of Dickens’ time while at the same time giving you a sense that this could be happening just down the street. It was a very enjoyable evening (including the intermission where free “fruit crumble” and coffee were served — try that on Stratford Festival!!). If you are in Penticton in the next couple of days, take it in: it’s worth the $20 (it could have charged more actually)>

Yesterday I went to Summerland, to St. John’s Lutheran (many Christmas events in this area, like PEI, are held in churches which is nice as you get to see churches full of people without having to attend a funeral). The reason was that Musaic Vocal Ensemble was presenting “A Christmas Collage”. This group recently lost their Music Director who moved east with her Anglican Priest husband (which meant the group also lost a bass singer along with two more youthful voices) so it was will some uncertainty that I approached the event. Need not have worried though — the new director (Frances Chiasson), while somewhat different in style and persona, has Musaic performing at its usual best. It was a great concert complete with three carols that the audience was encouraged to sing along — we did, but it was better when the choir was singing by themselves (the hand-clapping reinforced this feeling, even the choir was restrained after each carol and so the silence was broken by only a few disparate smacks of lonely hands!!). The range of works Musaic presented was amazing: from “O Magnum Mysterium by Tomas Luid de Victoria (1548-1611), “Star Carol” by John Rutter, “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin (1888-1989), “This Little Babe” by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), and Enio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” (there was a guest oboist — Juanita Gomes — who was outstanding on this piece — I was immediately transported back to the scene in “The Mission”) to music from Pentatonix “That’s Christmas to Me”, an arrangement of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song for a Winter’s Night”, “Cradle Hymn” by Kim Andre Arnesen and “Bird’s Lullaby” composed by a member of Musaic (Nicholas Ryan Kelly). It was two hours of wonderful music, expertly presented and in a church designed for good sound reproduction. I’m always thankful that Bach inspired Lutherans to be musical!!

To round out this first week or so of Advent I listened to Choral Concert on CBC Radio 2 twice!! Next week I will make sure that I listen in at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday when I will get to here the famous “Sing In” from St. Andrew and St. Paul Presbyterian in Montreal.