Jennie Bice

Jennie Bice

Tuning up for the Games: Mission musician commissioned for theme song

Jennie Bice, a Mission-area musician, was commissioned to compose the theme song for the BC Winter Games.

by Jessica Peters

Black Press

The BC Winter Games is bringing the best athletes to the forefront, Feb. 20-23 in Mission.

But before the first skis even hit the slopes, before the first drop of the puck, there will be a dazzling culture-filled opening ceremony. Filled with drumming, music and dancers, the ceremony pulls together dozens of local artists and  a large troupe of dancers.

One of those artists is Jennie Bice, a Mission-area musician and owner of Annwyn Studios. Through her involvement with Fraser Valley arts and culture organizations, Bice was commissioned to compose the theme song for the Games.

“Bronwen Sutherland phoned me last summer and asked if I’d be interested,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘oh, that’s kind of neat.’ I’d never done anything like that before.”

Bice’s focus is on the fiddle, and she’s equally comfortable working with Celtic groups or rock bands. But there were a few parameters that the theme song needed to follow.

“It has to be sports-related, and youth-focused,” she says. In short, it had to be a bit “pop.”

“I’ve never really written a pop song,” she confesses. But she has now, and the result is a song that encapsulates the spirit of the Games. But it also drums up a sense of community. With help from her husband Joe Samarodin as engineer, the song is a blend of local musicians and many of her own music students.

Each of the six main musicians has been into Annwyn Studios to lay down their tracks, including the multi-talented Boris Sichon.

“He can play something like 300 instruments,” Bice says. He contributed to the recorded track with  10 different instruments, from the drum to the didgeridoo.

Andy Hillhouse, executive and artistic director of the Harrison Festival Society, has also contributed to the track as a guitarist. All the musicians involved will be invited to the mainstage at the opening ceremonies at the Mission Raceway on Feb. 20, where they’ll perform the song live.

That performance will feature more than two dozen musicians, Bice says.

Sichon will have eight or nine students on stage, Bice will have a dozen of hers there, and a central band will round out the group. Kaitlin Holtsby and Caroline Samarodin will offer the vocals.

Many of the performers are younger, with an age range of five to 17.

“It’s a pretty neat experience to unite so many players on stage,” Bic says. “It’s a big opportunity for them. How often do you get to present a tune for such a big event?”

But even for an experienced performer like Hillhouse, one of the founders of the band Mad Pudding, performing at the BC Winter Games opening ceremony is a career highlight.

“It will be exciting,” he says. “I’ve just moved back to B.C. from Ontario, so it’s a nice arrival — to be involved in this right when I get back.”

He’s worked with Bice before, and while they have yet to perform the song in a full live rehearsal, he know she’s hit the mark.

“She did a great job,” he says. “The song perfectly fits the occasion.”

The BC Winter Games opening ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb 20, at the Mission BC Games Event Centre located at Mission Raceway Park.