Great Light, Great Joy, the Stella Maris Choir Christmas Concert, featuring the singers in a wide variety of traditional and modern music, takes place this Sunday at Good Shepherd Church.
It’s inevitable that this afternoon concert by the Peninsula-based choir – international ambassadors for the Catholic Star of the Sea Parish – will reflect a recent loss.
Gifted musician Henri Lorieau, the choir’s dedicated longtime piano and organ accompanist and arranger, succumbed to cancer in November.
It has been a great blow – both musically and personally – choir director Trudi Stammer acknowledged, and the shock was compounded by the swiftness of Lorieau’s decline following diagnosis.
But, as the title suggests, the overriding intent of the concert is to celebrate the spiritual significance of the season and the common values shared by all community members.
“The whole idea is to keep the real meaning of Christmas in place for everyone,” Stammer said, noting choir members include representatives from many of the faith groups in the Peninsula, meeting on common ground of spiritual awareness and a love of music.
“They’re keen to do what they do, or they wouldn’t be here.”
That’s brought home every year when the choir participates in the Christmas on the Peninsula tree-lighting ceremony at White Rock Community Centre, Stammer said.
“When we sing at that, at the end of it, there’s such a feeling of celebration and exhilaration and knowing this is the right thing – the right Christian thing to do.”
This year’s Christmas concert may not be as elaborate a production as some, Stammer said, but the musical content is just as strong.
“This year we’ve scaled down the concert a bit – we’re focusing on the beauty of the music itself, the qualities expressed by the lyrics and the dynamics that make the music speak,” she said.
The choir feels fortunate to have found pianist Geneviene Wong to play accompaniment for the concert, Stammer noted.
“She did her masters’ degree in Edinburgh, and was also the accompanist for the Edinburgh Children’s Choir…. She’s brilliant – and when she plays O Holy Night, in Henri’s arrangement, it’s a beautiful tribute to him.”
There will also be some new music, including the Ola Gjeilo composition, The Ground, a variation on part of the Gloria in the Mass, and A Great Light. (The latter “has a bit of a jazz feel,” Stammer said, adding that Elgin Park Secondary saxophonist Thomas Jinn is a guest performer.)
Popular soloists Kiel Magis and Anna Boots will also be featured, as will members of the Our Lady of Mercy Children’s Choir (Boots’ students) who will sing four of their own pieces as well as joining Stella Maris for such favourites as Do You Hear What I Hear.
Proceeds will go to local and international charities, including the Chalice program that sponsors Third World families.
“The choir is just going to entertain with our music – to bring good will and joy to the greater community,” she added.
This is our choir’s real calling, to serve the people of the Lord – that’s what we do.”
Tickets are $10 ($8 senior/student or $25 family), and are available at the Parish office, 604-531-5739. The concert, at 2250 150 St., begins at 3 p.m.