The acclaimed Universal Gospel Choir will perform at White Rock Baptist Church on May 5 to celebrate White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society's 30 years of community work.

The acclaimed Universal Gospel Choir will perform at White Rock Baptist Church on May 5 to celebrate White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society's 30 years of community work.

Acclaimed choir celebrates hospice society’s community work

The White Rock South Surrey Hospice will be recognized for more than three decades of community work.

It’s an upbeat gospel choir performance that also celebrates a long-term commitment to the community.

The upcoming return appearance of Vancouver’s acclaimed Universal Gospel Choir at White Rock Baptist Church (Saturday, May 5, 7:30 p.m., 1657 140 St.) is also a commemoration of White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society‘s 30 years of serving the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

Over that time, the society has provided free support services for thousands of families facing advanced illness of a loved one.

The choir’s musical director, Kathryn Nicholson, has her own special connection to palliative work as a part-time clinical counsellor at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Hospice society executive director Catherine Ferguson noted the choir’s diverse repertoire makes each performance unique, inspiring and mind-opening.

The large ensemble is noted for authentically-delivered songs from not only African-American, but also Cuban, African, European, Jewish, Asian and First Nations’ musical traditions.

“Their culturally rich performance last year was very enjoyable, and we are pleased that they have chosen to return,” Ferguson said.

This year’s concert was originally intended as Universal Gospel Choir’s debut for the society – it seemed a perfect fit for the organization’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

Much praised, but seldom seen – the choir usually assembles for some six to eight concerts per year – it only became available for a White Rock concert last year due to a cancellation.

An energetic leader with decades of experience conducting choirs across Canada, Nicholson’s unique skill set allows her to establish a deep connection with each song’s message, resulting in spirited performances that resonate with audiences.

The choir itself – which recently celebrated 25 years of transcending cultural boundaries with messages of healing and hope – is nothing if not ground-breaking.

It’s a multi-faith, multi cultural choir which draws on many traditions and has an alumni list of hundreds of singers, providing a valuable training ground for such performers as Leora Cashe, Christine Best, Dawn Pemberton and most of the members of The Shirleys.

Venues have ranged from everything from the dusty streets of Cuba to the Chan Centre, the  CBC Vancouver studios, and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, while the choir has shared the stage with such artists as Dee Daniels, Ian Tyson, Marcus Mosely, Linda Tillery, Jane Mortifee, Long John Baldry and the Canadian Tenors.

For tickets ($20) call the society at 604-531-7484, or buy online at www.whiterockhospice.org