Christmas is a time that, historically, has moved many to extraordinary celebrations of Christ’s birth.
That’s certainly the case with St. Mark’s Anglican Church, 12953 20 Ave., where this season sees the return of a proven attraction – the Journey of Christmas – and also the church choir providing the local debut of a brand new Christmas cantata, Shout The Good News! at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21.
As St. Mark’s publicist Bryan Walks notes, it’s part of a strong musical lineup to complement the Journey, the church’s unique outdoor guided display (6-9 p.m. until Dec. 27) showing the story of the Nativity in a series of lit dioramas.
Accompanying the opening of the display tonight (Dec. 15) will be members of the the White Rock Childrens Choir family accompanied by Janet Rendell, while pianist Pauline Turnham will play on Dec. 16, 23 and 27. Other special performances will be by the Gilbert & Sullivan Society Singers (Dec. 17), the church’s own Joyful Noyse recorder group (Dec. 18) and Pacific Showtime barbershop chorus (Dec. 19).
But there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation around the 35-minute cantata, the biggest challenge undertaken by the church’s 20-voice choir and its director Deanna Blanchard, which will be performed first for the congregation at the Dec. 18, 10 a.m. service.
“A cantata is basically a story in musical form, which alternates pieces of music with narration,” she said, noting the piece she has chosen, by composer Lloyd Larson and orchestrated by Michael Lowen, is brand new, blending original music with well-known carols.
“It’s really joyful music, beginning with a great big fanfare. There are tender moments and reflective moments in the piece, and it all ends with a big bang.”
It’ll also be a bittersweet farewell for Blanchard who will be leaving in January to accompany her husband Rev. Jonathan Blanchard, who will be taking an interim rectorship post in their native Winnipeg.
“It was something different we hadn’t done before.
“We’ve been working on it since September – and we’re blessed with some wonderful voices.”