Whistler Children’s Chorus celebrates Christmas

Local choir prepares for Once Upon a Christmas show on Dec. 10

The Whistler Children’s Chorus wants to take you on a trip around the world this Christmas.

The local youth choir is set to perform its first solo show of the year, on Sunday, Dec. 10 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

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“It’s an old-fashioned Christmas pageant,” said Jeanette Bruce, co-director of the chorus. “There are spoken parts in between the songs telling a story. The story in this year’s concert is called Christmas Around the World. (It highlights) different traditions — maybe Santa Claus is called something different in another country, maybe they celebrate on a different day.”

To that end, the show mixes in some traditional songs — like “Oh Come all Ye Faithful,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “We Three Kings” — with “a few others that are less familiar,” Bruce said.

For example, two girls in the choir speak German at home and will be performing “O Tannenbaum” in that language. “They corrected us on our pronunciation many times,” Bruce said, with a laugh. “For Christmastime with a group of kids, it works best if most of the songs are already familiar and you throw in a few bits and pieces.”

That said, the group — made up of around 15 to 20 kids from Grade 1 to Grade 7 — has been drawn to some unique holiday songs. “There’s a couple they absolutely love,” Bruce said. “One of them that will close out the concert is ‘White is the Winter Night.’

It was written and originally recorded by Enya, so it’s a Celtic Christmas song. They don’t know who Enya is, but it’s fun… We have to get through the rehearsal and they’re always saying, ‘Can we sing that song?’”

Another hit was an under-the-radar song called “This Great Day” about the three wise men. “We had to learn what frankincense and myrrh was. The song also talks about how they rode on camels — that was a whole discussion as well,” Bruce said.

The other highlight of the show: it features Alison Hunter on harp, Sharon Schrul on accordion and an appearance from a glockenspiel.

“They’re over the moon about (that),” she added. “There are lots of different instruments for them to hear.”

After their big solo show, the chorus will gear up for the annual Christmas Eve Carol Service at the Westin Resort and Spa on Dec. 24 alongside the (adult) Whistler Singers. “We’re excited about that,” Bruce said. “The cool thing about Christmas Eve is you see community members doing the readings. It has a real community feel, but over 2,000 people come every year — visitors, locals, it’s just good vibes. It’s such a fun event.”

Looking to next month, the Whistler Children’s Chorus will open back up to new members, starting with their Jan. 16 practice.

“If your kid just wants to try it out, join us on Jan. 16 and try out a rehearsal,” Bruce said.

For more information visit whistlerchorus.org.

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