Abbotsford Youth Orchestra director Calvin Dyck, with strings players Anna Krahn (from left), Sanne Heaven and Michaela Krahn and Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir member Caleb Warkentin, are ready for the upcoming performance of An Irish Christmas. This year’s annual holiday concerts featuring the orchestra and special guest performers happen this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 14-15) at Gateway Church.

Going green this Christmas? Experience Ireland’s musical traditions here in Abbotsford

An Irish Christmas brings the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra, special guests to Gateway Church

Whether you hail from the Emerald Isle or the Fraser Valley, the upcoming Songs, Strings and Steps presentations of An Irish Christmas this weekend at the Gateway Church will leave you feeling like you’ve just visited Dublin.

Director and violinist Calvin Dyck and the talented Abbotsford Youth Orchestra anchor a traditional Irish program featuring the voices of the Alumni Project – graduates of the MEI choir and Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir – as well as champion Irish dancers, a traditional Uilleann piper, special guest singers and a native Irish narrator.

It’s all designed to offer you a glimpse into the traditions and music of Ireland, from the playing of Irish carols to the re-enactment of the ancient custom of putting a lit candle in the window, leaving the door unlatched and a plate of cookies nearby for weary, hungry travellers.

“We finish off with the singing of the Irish Christmas Blessing, with the lights down and the audience holding candles,” Dyck says. “It creates a real moment, with the piper coming in as people file out. I love to create an experience for people – yes, it’s a musical experience – but I want them to have a visual and an emotional experience as well.”

How you’ll get a taste of Ireland in the Valley:

  • This year’s Christmas concert, the 15th for the youth orchestra, marks the first time you’ll hear a specifically Irish program. As part of the performances, members of the Steel School of Irish Dance will enjoy a rare opportunity to dance accompanied by a live orchestra, as opposed to recorded tracks.
  • Narrator Paul Johnston, a native of Belfast who grew up during The Troubles and is a former police constable, brings a distinct Irish flair to the evening. He recalls there was one week of peace in the volatile city, that being the week of Christmas.
  • Dyck’s original idea was to bring The Gettys to Abbotsford to perform Christmas songs. When the cost proved prohibitive, he purchased some of their arrangements for the local orchestra to play instead.
  • For the song Christmas in Killarney, the orchestra’s violinists will dance while they’re playing. “All the girls will wear Irish plaid skirts and the guys are in Irish plaid ties,” Dyck says. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Abbotsford supports local arts groups

While the AYO has performed concerts elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, playing at home always produces the best response. “When you have local patrons supporting us and local performers on stage, it’s really a homegrown production in every aspect,” Dyck says. “Everybody’s rooting for the kids on stage and there’s such a wholesome support for this. It really is an Abbotsford phenomenon.”

*****

Tickets for the concerts, 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, are available at Kings Music and House of James in Abbotsford, or online at eventbrite.ca. You can also follow Songs, Strings and Steps on Facebook.

 

The Alumni Project, featuring graduates and former members of the MEI choir program and the Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, will sing this weekend at Gateway Church as part of An Irish Christmas, headlined by the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

Property across from King Traditional Elementary cannot operate manure facility without permit

Mamba Fight Night returns to Abbotsford

Abbotsford Centre hosting sixth edition of local fight card

Thunderbird pilots to visit Abbotsford for airshow site inspection

This year’s airshow will be the U.S. Air Force aerial show troupe’s first visit since 2012

Your daily commute and weather forecast: Jan. 17, 2019

Heavy congestion on the roads today, as we head back into the dreary weather following days of sun

Simon Ave. closed in Abbotsford after pedestrian struck

It’s the second pedestrian struck within only a couple of hours in the city

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Vancouver city council endorses free transit for youth

Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a support letter to TransLink

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read