Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Through Time with Songs Strings & Steps

Songs Strings & Steps presents
Christmas Through Time
Calvin Dyck & the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Ken Lavigne, Tenor
Melanie Krueger, Soprano
Victoria Brass
Fraser Valley Academy of Dance
Boris Sichon
Sylvia Friesen – Show Design
Friday, December 19 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 20, 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Central Heights Church, 1661 McCallum Road, Abbotsford
Tickets: Adults $29, Seniors $25, Students $15 (+ tax/fee)
At House of James, Kings Music

Dreams, Ticking Clocks and Time
“Christmas Through Time” with Songs Strings & Steps

Once upon a time there was a dream. It was a real dream that inspired the Songs Strings & Steps (SSS) team to produce Christmas Through Time as their 10th Annual Christmas extravaganza being held in the Central Heights Church at 1661 McCallum Road in Abbotsford on Friday, December 19 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, December 20 at both 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Says director Calvin Dyck, “When Uncle Harold told us about a dream he had this past summer, of Christmas through time, I thought it was a brilliant theme for our show. As a result, the team has come up with a program that celebrates Christmas through the ages, from Medieval and Baroque days, right up to the present.”

Timely talent: As with traditional SSS concerts, this show is filled with the exceptional talents of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra (AYO), Fraser Valley Academy of Dance (FVAD), local actors, dancers and men’s choral ensemble, plus a few distinguished professional musicians from Calvin’s many connections that include the Victoria Brass, world musician Boris Sichon, soprano Melanie Krueger, and pianist Mel Bowker. “I’m really excited about having tenor Ken Lavigne join us this year,” says Calvin. “Ken has just released his Christmas album, Comfort & Joy, and I love his new arrangements of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Upon a Midnight Clear.” Ken made a name for himself by singing at Carnegie Hall, and will be singing at the Sydney Opera House in 2015.

The dream comes true: Once again the production team has outdone itself with sets, props, costumes, choreography and treats for the audience. Adds Calvin, “Besides the musical aspect, we want to create the feeling of what it would be like in a certain time and place.”

From monk’s robes and Gregorian chant, to the Nutcracker fantasy, ticking clocks and snowballs - the audience is in for a really spectacular time-travelling thrill. And of course, not to forget the main ingredient - fantastic Christmas music – with surprises - all in perfect time!

Musical moments: Calvin, as director, keeps time with his baton and violin; Boris Sichon performs on the Duduk (Armenian flute) with a costume that looks like it’s from the first century; the Victoria Brass and tenor Ken Lavigne lead the audience in Joy to the World & Hark the Herald; Melanie Krueger’s voice soars with Let the Bright Seraphim; the AYO presents a choreographed Syncopated Clock; Mel Bowker joins Calvin for Silver Bells; the FVAD performs a scene from The Nutcracker; Andrew and Christine will recite “Clearly” – a new poem by Alvin Ens, and not to forget, it’s Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’s 75th Anniversary. Adds Calvin, “Of course, we will include traditional sing-along carols, and a re-telling of the real Christmas Story.

That’s just a sampling of this outstanding show that leads up to a magnificent full-cast, spine-tingling O Holy Night.

Time flies: Clocks tick away and before you know it, it will be show time, so there’s no time to lose in reserving your seat for this fabulous theatrical journey – Christmas Through Time. Tickets are $29 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for students (plus tax and fee) at House of James of King’s Music.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Home For Christmas with tenor Ken Lavigne and the British Columbia Boys Choir

Home For Christmas
with Ken Lavigne, Tenor
Special Guests: British Columbia Boys Choir
Monday, December 8, 7:30 p.m.
Royal theatre, 805 Broughton Street, Victoria BC
Tickets" $35-$75 250-386-6121 or toll free at 1-888-717-6121 at the Royal Theatre Box Office
Home for Christmas with Comfort & Joy
An interview with tenor Ken Lavigne
By Rosemary Phillips

Tenor Ken Lavigne knows about dreaming - dreaming BIG - and having dreams come true. It was a dream that took him on the Road to Carnegie Hall, a dream and lots of hard work that produced his new holiday recording Comfort & Joy; and now a new dream has him looking to perform at the Sydney Opera House in 2015.

“I have no idea how this one is going to happen, but I’m one-hundred-percent committed,” laughs the ever-popular and much-loved Vancouver Island tenor. “I’ve added a PBS special with Detroit television which increases the cost, so it’s BIG!”

Home for Christmas: And a first step on his Road to Sydney is his uniquely traditional Home for Christmas concert, being held at the Royal Theatre (805 Broughton Street) in Victoria on Monday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. Home for Christmas features Ken at his best, singing, with his naturally beautiful and powerful tenor voice, the music from Comfort & Joy accompanied by an ensemble orchestra, conducted by Joey Pietraroia, with the addition of his special guests, the British Columbia Boys Choir under the direction of award-winning choral conductor Tony Araujo.

British Columbia Boys Choir: “Having the Boys Choir enhances everything, as they fill out the songs with magnificent voices. It’s going to be really special,” explains Ken.

It has been thirty years since the world-touring Boys Choir, which recently celebrated its 45th Anniversary, has brought its exceptional music to British Columbia’s capitol city. “I’m really glad to be able to facilitate their return,” adds Ken. “They will be joining me for traditional songs like Away in a Manger, Adeste Fideles, Christmas Time, and the choir’s traditional performance of Silent Night. There’s something magical about hearing those boys’ voices singing that simple and majestic melody. I’m really looking forward to performing it with them.”

Comfort & Joy: Meanwhile, after a year in the making, Ken’s Christmas album is now complete – and released - in perfect time. “It features members of the stellar Vancouver Island Symphony and was recorded at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, with Zak Cohen of the Woodshop Recording Studio in Duncan,” explains Ken. “I am honoured to have worked with such amazing musicians and professional technicians and I’m really proud to have been able to see this project through from the beginning to its release. It was a real thrill for me the moment I heard these fabulous, original arrangements for the first time with the orchestra. I’ve included a few audio clips from the album on my web site.”

All in the family: Ken’s family has been a major supporter for all that he does, from Alice his wife, to his three children. “I’m hoping to be able to convince my oldest, Gracie (she’s 10), to come out on the stage for Away in a Manger,” whispers Ken. “Gracie sang the solo voice in the recording.”

For the family: Home for Christmas is all about family. It’s about celebrating the season with family – with music – with Ken’s luscious and rich tenor voice, and the soaring and spine-tingling four-part harmonies of the Boys Choir. Ken adds, “From my family to yours, I wish you all the Comfort & Joy of the holiday season!”

Tickets: Come ‘Home for Christmas’ and bring in the spirit of the season! Bring family and friends for a truly unforgettable musical experience. Tickets are $35 to $75 and are available through the Royal Theatre Box Office, by calling 250.386.6121 or toll-free 1.888.717.6121 and online at:

For more information visit:
And about the British Columbia Boys Choir visit:

Handel's Messiah in Abbotsford BC

Songs Strings & Steps presents
Handel’s ‘Messiah’
Vancouver Bach Choir
Alison Nystrom, Soprano; Ingrid Mapson, Alto
John Bacon, Tenor; Chad Louwerse, Bass
Conductor: Calvin Dyck
Saturday, December 6, 7 p.m.
Gateway Community Church
2884 Abby/Mission Highway, Abbotsford BC

The MessiahMiraculous, Masterful, Majestic, Magnificent
Handel’s ‘Messiah’ comes to Abbotsford
By Rosemary Phillips

Abbotsford’s popular and much-loved musical director Calvin Dyck can’t help but be excited. “It is a dream come true,” he exclaims passionately, “to conduct Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in Abbotsford with some of the best professional talent available, for the greatest oratorio ever written!”

On Saturday, December 6 at 7 p.m. at the new Gateway Community Church on the Abbotsford-Mission Highway, Calvin will be directing the Vancouver Bach Choir and professional soloists from near and far: Alison Nystrom, soprano; Ingrid Mapson, alto; John Bacon, tenor from England; and Chat Louwerse, bass.

“We also have a professional orchestra of colleagues of mine from Vancouver,” continues Calvin. “I’m thrilled with the quality of the musicianship. I’ve had a chance to rehearse with the Vancouver Bach Choir and it’s like driving a Cadillac. They are so experienced and have sung the ‘Messiah’ many times.”

Miraculous music: Handel’s ‘Messiah’ is a translation of text into beautiful choral and orchestral sounds. It was written in just 18 days, at a time when Handel was at the peak of his musical powers. He was in a state of deep depression and yet his miraculous composition is a celebration of life and spirit; it is about prophesy and fulfilment, suffering and death, resurrection and redemption.

Over the last 260 years the ‘Messiah’ has become a tradition, an important part of the Christmas season around the world, holding an extraordinary grip on musicians and audience members alike.

Masterful musicians: Calvin Dyck, a prominent violinist, teacher, adjudicator and director, is well-known in Abbotsford for his popular Songs Strings & Steps shows. The Vancouver Bach Choir, one of the largest choral organizations in Canada, has been performing since 1930 and offers concerts in Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland. Alison Nystrom, soprano, is noted for her expressiveness and has performed across North America and Europe. She currently teaches voice at Trinity Western University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley. Ingrid Mapson, mezzo soprano, has toured with groups in Western Canada, the US and Bahamas, played roles with Theatre Under the Stars, and was recently selected as a finalist for Canada’s Got Talent. UK-based Canadian tenor John Bacon has established himself as a singer of exceptional musicianship, warmth, style and character. He has performed throughout Europe, North America and Australasia. Canadian bass-baritone Chad Louwerse is an active oratorio singer and recitalist who made his European operatic debut with L’Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg.

Majestic: Hallelujah! The passion, power and emotion of this chorus traditionally draws the audience out of their seats and onto their feet, just like it did for His Majesty, King George II of England during a performance in London. In those days, if the king stood, everyone stood – and so it has been ever since.

Adds Calvin, “Handel’s famous musical telling of the timeless message of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, continues to move audiences with such majestic songs as For Unto Us a Son is Given, the Hallelujah, and I Know that my Redeemer Liveth.”

Magnificent: Come celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and all its splendour in this most magnificent concert. Tickets are $29 for adults, $25 for seniors, $15 for students, plus tax and fee, and are available at House of James and King’s Music.



Musical Joy with the British Columbia Boys Choir

Musical Joy with the British Columbia Boys Choir
Special Guest: Ken Lavigne, Tenor
Friday, December 5, 7:30 p.m. - Cleland Theatre, 325 Power Street, Pencticton BC
Presented by Penticton Community Concerts
Tickets $30, $5 for students, available at Shatford Centre, 760 Main Street, Penticton, and at the door.
Sunday, December 7 - Ryerson United Church, 2195 W. 45th Ave. Vancouver
Presented by the British Columbia Boys Choir
At the door tickets: Adults $28, Students $16
Advance tickets: Adults $24, Students $12 by calling 1-888-909-8282

On December 8, 1968, a tradition was born when the newly formed British Columbia Boys Choir gave their first full-length concert, just in time for Christmas. Forty-six years later that tradition continues as the Choir reaches into the future and presents Musical Joy on Sunday, December 7 at 4 p.m. in Vancouver’s Ryerson United Church (2195 West 45th Avenue) – with a difference! And on Friday, December 5 at the Cleland Theatre in Penticton BC.

Ken Lavigne: This year the Choir welcomes popular and inspiring tenor Ken Lavigne as their special guest and joins him for several songs from his newly released CD, ‘Comfort and Joy’ - songs like Away in a Manger, Adeste Fideles and Christmas Time.

Says Tony Araujo, the Choir’s award-winning choral and artistic director, “I’m really excited. I’ve not worked with Ken before. It will be a great experience for the boys to be singing with such a professional artist.”

Adds Ken, chuckling, “When I was a lad I was in a choir, so I know I’m going to be having some serious flash backs while I’m singing with them.”

Silent Night: This is going to take a little bit longer to explain, but it’s worth every word and note! The1968 concert, which was given a glowing review by Max Wyman in the Vancouver Sun, and was also filmed by CBC for airing on television closer to Christmas, closed with a magnificent and spine-tingling recessional Silent Night.

That following summer, while the Choir was on their first of many European Tours, a young member, Timothy Pugh, while wandering in Oberdorf, in Austria, came across St. Nicholas parish church, where Hans Gruber composed the music for Silent Night. Timothy went running to get Don Forbes, the Choir’s founding choral director. The Choir ended up singing there the next day, for a wedding, and from the church balcony, performed a memorable Silent Night. (For more details and other amazing stories, see their recently published book ‘A Song to Remember, 45th Anniversary Memoirs’ which will be on sale at the concert.)

And so another tradition was born; at the end of each Christmas concert the story of Silent Night has been told before the soaring sounds of the choir lift the audience up and away.

However, this year, in addition, the choir will be joined by Ken’s magnificent voice. “It will be a slightly different version,” explains Tony, “injecting a new flavour while honouring the tradition.”

Says Ken, “There’s something magical about hearing those boys’ voices singing the simple and majestic melody. I’m really looking forward to performing it with them.”

Musical Joy! One thing’s for sure, the Choir’s traditional Christmas still holds a good mix of seasonal music. “There will be familiar tunes, and some that the audience will not have heard before,” explains Tony passionately. “The boys will be singing a jazzy version of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, there’s the Angel’s Carol by John Rutter, and Mille Cherubini In Coro by Franz Schubert. While the show is mostly about Christmas, we are also highlighting the Choir’s repertoire. For example, the tenors and basses are singing the powerful Prayer of the Children, and we are performing One Dream, which honours the voice of a child, the voice of the future.”

Tickets: Bring in the spirit of the season with Musical Joy! Bring family and friends for a truly unforgettable musical experience.
For the December 5 concert in Penticton: Tickets $30, $5 for students, available at Shatford Centre, 760 Main Street, Penticton, and at the door.
For the concert in Vancouver: Advance tickets are $24 for adults, and $12 for students (by calling toll free 1-888-909-8282) and at the door, $28 for adults and $16 for students.
For more information and to purchase CDs and copies of “A Song to Remember: 45th Anniversary Memoirs” (which will be available at the concert) visit

For more information about Ken Lavigne and his CDs visit:



Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Festive Brassy Christmas with the Vancouver Island Symphony

 The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
A Festive Brassy Christmas
Guest Artists: The Festive Brass
Symphonic Choir, VI Symphony Children’s Choir -
Patricia Plumley, Choral Director
Pierre Simard, Conductor
Saturday, December 13, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Heralding in the season with The Festive Brass

Polished up with spine-tingling and often hilarious orchestral and choral arrangements, The Festive Brass quartet joins the Vancouver Island Symphony, VI Symphonic Choir and VI Symphony Children’s Choir on stage at the Port Theatre for A Festive Brassy Christmas on Saturday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m.

VI Symphony fans have heralded the brass as one of their favourite family Christmas shows and to help celebrate 20 years of VI Symphony tradition, artistic director Pierre Simard invited Stevan Paranosic, principal trumpet, to bring along his popular quartet and present a memorable evening of fantastic seasonal music, laughter, song, sing-along, and surprises.

Polished brass: Over the past two decades The Festive Brass has been a popular and regular crowd-pleaser for passers-by at Butchart Gardens in Victoria during the Christmas season with their own top-notch musicianship, quirky arrangements and cheeky humour. The talented musicians include Stevan Paranosic (trumpet), Bruce Hurn (trumpet), Nick La Riviere (trombone), and Robert Fraser (bass trombone).

Polished humour: “The emphasis is on humour, an important part of the show,” says Paranosic. “At Christmas we are inundated with muzak elevator versions everywhere, so this is a tailored show for the VI Symphony orchestra and choirs with most of the music arranged by members of The Festive Brass, and a piece by Pierre Simard.”

It’s Christmas music with a real twist, full of surprises. Imagine - Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer mashed up with Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, or Sting’s Roxanne!  “Rudolph is the most popular and requested tune,” adds Stevan, “so, we have created what we call de-arrangements in various styles.”

Polished beauty: Meanwhile, interspersed throughout the program are jewels, like Ave Maria and Fantasia on Greensleeves. “Three years ago we had fantastic feedback on the VI Symphony’s performance of one of the most beautiful pieces every written – O Magnum Mysterium. I had transcribed it for the talented brass of the orchestra. For many it was a highlight of the show and is one of the hidden gems in this program.”

Shining tradition: Come herald in the spirit of the season. Bring family and friends to celebrate 20 years of shining Christmas tradition. Come experience the stirring force of orchestra, choir and brass. Come sing along and join in the celebration. For tickets call 250-754-8550.

For more information visit
Celebrate 20! – “An Awesome Party” – Keeping Music LIVE!

For a YouTube video of some of The Festive Brass music at Butchart Gardens visit:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Symphony by the Sea - Aunti Bobbi to entertain children

HOT FLASH! This just in from producer Calvin Dyck.

AUNTI BOBBI THE CLOWN - Popular and much loved Aunti Bobbi the Clown will be at Maffeo Sutton Park from 5-6 p.m. on Saturday, August 9 to entertain the children as they wait for Symphony by the Sea - a FREE (donations welcomed) musical extravaganza for the whole family.

So come on down - by the sea - and meet up with Aunti Bobbi and the musicians and artists of Symphony by the Sea. Be sure to bring your blankets and lawn chairs and picnics.

THERE WILL BE ICE-CREAM - No summertime concert should be without ice-cream! So, there will be ice-cream from Island Farms and coffee from the Vancouver Island Symphony, and various food vendors to provide snacks for those who get a little hungry.

Add the great music, entertainment, talent, variety and of course, the beauty of Maffeo Sutton Park, the kids park, pool and Sea Wall, and the great Downtown Nanaimo - and you have a day to remember - for the whole family.


Monday, July 28, 2014

The Paper Bag 1812 Overture - Symphony by the Sea 2014

Come Join the Big Bang in the Paper Bag 1812 Overture at
Symphony by the Sea

When Calvin Dyck, popular violinist and man of many hats, puts together a show, just about anything can happen. Calvin loves surprising the audience – and the musicians. On Saturday, August 9 at 6 p.m. rain or shine, in Maffeo Sutton Park in downtown Nanaimo, Calvin is presenting Symphony by the Sea. It’s a FREE (donations welcomed) live musical family event with a cast of awesome performers like tenor Ken Lavigne, members of the Vancouver Island Symphony and Abbotsford Virtuosi, Flamenco guitarist Eric Harper, Nanaimo pianist Sarah Wood, dancer Charlene Hart, pianist and composer Mel Bowker, and Kaleb McIntyre on bagpipes. And – you got it – SURPRISES!
The Paper Bag 1812 Overture - Calvin has let the cat  (air) out of the bag regarding one surprise – the Paper Bag 1812 Overture. The big bang of cannons during this fantastic overture by Tchaikovsky is always a great way to end a sensational summertime concert. This year the audience gets to join in.
Says Calvin; “I’m considering combining the popping of paper bags with an electronic blast from our surround-sound man, Jim Kent. In the traditional music there are bells and percussion, so we will also have volunteers in the audience with different noise-makers.”

How? What? Where? And when? Calvin explains; “Just before intermission I’ll do a demonstration. Then during intermission the audience can buy paper bags for a nominal fee (we are also using the event as a fundraiser to cover costs), and at the appropriate time in the music, on cue, everyone can pop their bag. It will be a blast – several thousand paper bags being popped at the same time!”
Whose idea? “I can’t take credit for it,” laughed Calvin. “A member of the Calgary Philharmonic arranged the music a few years ago. They performed it and it was great fun. And Rosemary Thompson of the Okanagan Symphony showed the score to me. I’ve had it on the back burner ever since – waiting for the perfect time – which is Symphony by the Sea.”
Great music and entertainment.  From Calvin’s soaring Hot Canary, to Ken’s silky and breathtaking Bring Him Home, Symphony by the Sea is filled with great music and entertainment. There’s Scotland the Brave, the theme from Lord of the Rings, the spine-tingling Fanfare for the Common Man with the brass section of the Vancouver Island Symphony, Neapolitan favourites with Ken, and Cole Porter classics with Calvin - it’s music that everyone knows and loves. Add a story or two, some poetry, some dancing, more surprises and audience participation (like singing along with Ken) and you have a truly fun-filled show for the whole family.
Rain or shine! – That’s Saturday, August 9 at 6 p.m. Families, friends, all ages are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnics to Maffeo Sutton Park. Come early to get your parking spot (or consider coming by bus or car-pooling) and book your 'patch' of grass; enjoy the Sea Walk, kids’ park and beach; venture along the beautiful waterfront and wander into Downtown Nanaimo and exquisite shops.

Come on down by the sea Make it a total family day followed by great entertainment, awesome music, and as always with our sensational Calvin Dyck - SURPRISES!
For more information visit:
Call: 250-754-0177


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Symphony by the Sea 2014

The Hats are Back and the Guy with the Tie for
Symphony by the Sea
Saturday, August 9, 6 p.m.
Maffeo Sutton Park - Nanaimo

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND - It’s a new tradition. After the huge success of last summer's concert, Calvin Dyck, violinist and director (and man of many hats) is presenting Symphony by the Sea featuring popular tenor Ken Lavigne (the guy with the tie). It’s a fantastic FREE musical variety show for the whole family (donations gratefully accepted) on Saturday, August 9 at 6 p.m. in Maffeo Sutton Park – RAIN or SHINE.
Ken tells a story while Calvin looks on
Say Calvin; “We were thrilled and overwhelmed with the positive response last year and want to keep the new tradition going with a summertime evening of fantastic music and entertainment.”

It’s a show to remember – From Calvin’s soaring Hot Canary, to Ken’s silky and breathtaking Bring Him Home, Symphony by the Sea is chockablock full of great music - and surprises. Calvin and Ken are joined by members of the Vancouver Island Symphony and Abbotsford Virtuosi, Flamenco guitarist Eric Harper, Nanaimo pianist Sarah Wood, dancer Charlene Hart, pianist Mel Bowker, and Caleb McIntyre on bagpipes.

The music - Says Ken; “We have a great set of popular music that we know people will enjoy.”

From Scotland the Brave to Lord of the Rings, the spine-tingling Fanfare for the Common Man with the brass section of the Vancouver Island Symphony, Neapolitan favourites with Ken and Cole Porter classics with Calvin, it’s music that everyone knows and loves.
Bill Robinson helps Calvin pick
the winner for the Yellow Hat
There’s more! -  Add a story or two, some poetry, surprises and audience participation (like singing along with Ken, bidding on the hat or tie, or joining in with the 1812 Overture finale - we won't give away how - you'll have to be there) - and you have a truly fun-filled show for the whole family.
Rain or shine! – That’s Saturday, August 9 at 6 p.m. Families, friends, all ages are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnics to Maffeo Sutton Park. Come early to get your parking spot (or consider coming by bus or car-pooling) and book your 'patch' of grass; enjoy the Sea Walk, kids’ park and beach; venture along the beautiful waterfront and wander into Downtown Nanaimo and exquisite shops.

Come on down by the sea – Make it a total family day followed by great entertainment, awesome music, and as always with our sensational Calvin Dyck - SURPRISES!

For up-to-date information visit and Or call 250-754-0177.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

British Columbia Boys Choir sang for Nation on Canada Day 2014

British Columbia Boys Choir sang ‘O Canada’ for the Nation
It was a dream come true - a moment to remember - as the British Columbia Boys Choir, flanked by the Abbotsford Virtuosi violin ensemble, sang ‘O Canada’ for the Nation on Parliament Hill for Canada Day 2014.

Dressed in their blue-blazer uniform with red tie, the Choir, was arranged in a V on the slopes of the stage while images of the Canadian flag rose behind them. In front of them stood Prime-Minister Steven Harper, Governor General David Johnston, their families, dignitaries, and thousands of spectators celebrating this country’s birthday.

Conductor Tony Araujo, past recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence and of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, led the choir and ensemble in a harmonious, rousing, full-hearted version of “God Save Our Queen” followed by our National Anthem in a performance that will long be remembered not only by the performers but by many on this side of the country - in British Columbia.

While the Choir has toured and represented Canada internationally for 45 years, this is the first time they have represented their country in Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital, for the event that is celebrated by  Canadians from coast to coast – Canada Day. 

Parliament Hill is just one of the stops for the Choir on their month-long cross-Canada journey with the Abbotsford Virtuosi and their show O CANADA OUR HOME - Songs & Stories of Canada. Stops include Montreal, Ottawa, Gros Morne National Park, Cornerbrook, Sydney Mines, Lunenburg, Charlottetown, Saint John, Toronto, Stratford, Huntsville, Wawa, Neepawa, Saskatoon and Banff before venturing back home through the Rockies.

Says Executive Director, Margot Holmes, “This was a dream come true. I grew up in Ottawa - and there is no place like Parliament Hill on Canada Day!”

For more information visit:



Monday, June 23, 2014

O CANADA OUR HOME - British Columbia Boys Choir sings on Parliament Hill, July 1

O CANADA OUR HOME - Songs and Stories of Canada
45th Anniversary - Cross-Canada Tour
With the British Columbia Boys Choir and Abbotsford Virtuosi
June 27 to July 27, 2014 in a location near YOU!

It’s a dream come true – as the British Columbia Boys Choir travels across Canada with their sensational new show O CANADA OUR HOME - Songs & Stories of Canada. One highlight for the Choir is singing on Parliament Hill for Canada Day 2014 during the noon-hour performances. The other - meeting people, performing in, and staying in communities across this great nation.  

It just seemed the appropriate thing for this internationally-renowned four-part secular boys’ choir to do - celebrate their 45th Anniversary by travelling across their own country with their award-winning Artistic Director, Tony Araujo, and Associate Conductor, Edette Gagne, and guests, the Abbotsford Virtuosi violin ensemble, directed by Calvin Dyck. Members of the Choir and ensemble range in age from 10 to19, and come from Greater Vancouver communities and central Vancouver Island. They will be on the road for a whole month, singing and playing together in Montreal, Ottawa, Gros Morne National Park, Cornerbrook, Sydney Mines, Lunenburg, Charlottetown, Saint John, Toronto, Stratford, Huntsville, Wawa, Neepawa, Saskatoon and Banff before venturing back home through the Rockies.

 The Choir – Since its inception in 1968, the Choir has trained over 900 young singers (many of whom have become professional musicians and broadcasters) and has represented Canada around the globe. They have won the hearts of audiences everywhere and received acclaim in the Netherlands, Europe, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, China, South America, the United States - and Canada. Says Araujo; “It’s such a wonderful opportunity and fantastic cultural experience for these young artists to perform Canadian choral music across our own great nation – visiting each province, from sea to sea.” 
 The Abbotsford Virtuosi – This string ensemble was established in 2000 by violinist and conductor Calvin Dyck to provide youth with opportunities to learn a broad range of orchestral repertoire, and to perform in public – with virtuosity - and fun! Their highly successful Songs Strings & Steps concerts create an arts experience that delights audiences and inspires youth to reach for the stars. Says Dyck, “This is the longest and biggest tour we have done and my youngest violinist has said, ‘I’m so EXCITED … I can’t wait!’”

O CANADA OUR HOME is a highly entertaining performance filled with soul stirring and spine-tingling songs and music, brilliant choreography, heart-felt poetry, stories, costumes and surprises – all about Canada. Says Executive Director, Margot Holmes, “The goal for this show and tour is to celebrate Canada, this great country, the people, cultures and traditions - through songs and stories. Tony and Calvin have picked great music, from popular Canadian favourites and less familiar songs to choreographed string numbers. We are even dramatizing the poem We Are More by BC’s Shane Koyczan who presented it during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.”

The Music includes choral favourites from across Canada, composed by Canadians, like Northwest Passage, Song for the Mira, I’se the B’y, This is My Home, Song for Canada, Wood River, J’entends le Moulin, and Frobisher Bay. The Choir will also premiere the newly commissioned piece, Go into the Glory of the Woods by Vancouver composer Brian Tate. The Abbotsford Virtuosi will accompany the Choir throughout then take the stage with the energetic, toe-tapping, choreographed Prairie Swing, Nickel Rag, Canticle for an Angel – and more!

Tickets: check your local media for locations and tickets for this exciting and not-to-be-missed truly Canadian concert.

For more information visit  - Inspiring Excellence!


A Song to Remember - 45th Anniversary Memoirs of the British Columbia Boys Choir

A Song to Remember – 45th Anniversary Memoirs
Featuring the Voices of the British Columbia Boys Choir
Launched at the British Columbia Boys Choir’s 45th Anniversary Gala at the Chan Centre in Vancouver, “A Song to Remember” is a unique compilation of memories and moments presented like a song, with a Score (Table of Contents) and Verses (Chapters), and with contributions from ‘Boys’ (old and young), families, music directors, board members, management, hosts and friends. Alumni who have contributed include: Peter Strummer, international opera singer; Fraser Walters of The Tenors; Peter Togni, broadcaster, musician and composer; Alessandro Juliani, actor, singer, composer; and professional musicians like Frankie Cena, Cameron Haney, Peter Alexander, Jason Cook, Tom Dobrzanski, Jason Nett, and Barry Rector. The book is filled with quotes from interviews, various archival documents, newsletters, articles and newspaper reviews.   

“(The audience) clapped lustily from the start, and the closing number brought them happily to their feet.”  - Max Wyman, Sun Music Critic, June 19, 1969.

Says author Rosemary Phillips, “What better voice to tell their story than that of the Choir itself. This is their song - in words and pictures.”

“The choir kept attracting some of the most amazing boys from all over the city undoubtedly drawn by the prospect of not only singing but also travelling.” - Barry Rector, Alumni, Professional Musician, Retired Teacher.

A Song to Remember is the story of a Choir that started as one man’s dream in 1968 and evolved into a harmonious musical instrument that continues to perform a demanding repertoire from Gregorian chant to contemporary music. The Choir has trained over 900 boys and toured extensively around the world representing British Columbia and Canada. From small concert halls and churches to massive cathedrals and auditoriums the Choir, like a pebble in a pond, has sent ripples around the world and affected lives through their voice, songs, presence and positive influences passed on to communities wherever they have performed. They have won not only the hearts of audiences everywhere but received acclaim throughout Canada, the Netherlands, the United States, Europe, Russia, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, China and South America.

“Maturing as a young man is an important part of your life, and to have a mentor to help you through that time is very important.”  – Fraser Walters, Professional Singer, Chanticleer, now with The Tenors.

A Song to Remember follows the Choir and its members on their journey, adventures and antics from the Choir’s inception in 1968 with illustrious founding director Donald Forbes and their unforgettable tour behind the Iron Curtain in 1969, to their popularity in Holland, the voice change (rite of passage), traditions, recordings, changing times, transitions with award-winning directors Gerald van Wyck and Tony Araujo, and, like any non-profit organization, the many challenges of keeping it all together over the years. Most importantly, A Song to Remember tells of how the Choir has not just been about the music, but the experience that influenced each boy’s future life and career as businessman, lawyer, designer, bus drive, professional musician, broadcaster, composer, recording engineer and arts administrator, to name a few professions.

“From treble to bass, from boy to man, from innocent to dare-I-say worldly! Such was the journey I took as a member of the Boys Choir for the near-decade (’83-’92) that I was proud to be a member.” - Alessandro Juliani, Actor, Singer, Composer and Sound Designer
Published by Reikos International Publishers, A Song to Remember is available through and at all concerts as the Choir, directed by Tony Araujo, begins their 45th Anniversary cross-Canada tour from June 27 to July 26 with their show O Canada Our Home – Songs & Stories of Canada – highlighted by singing ‘O Canada’ on Parliament Hill for the Canada Day 2014 noon show.

For more information and to order copies ($32 plus shipping) phone the BC Boys Choir office at 1-888-909-8282 or visit online - Inspiring Excellence!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Celebrate 20! An Awesome Party - with the Vancouver Island Symphony

Celebrate 20!
The Vancouver Island Symphony launches their 20th Anniversary Season
An Awesome Party!
Celebrating 20 years of fantastic music
Season and single concert tickets available NOW!

 It’s “An Awesome Party!” as the Vancouver Island Symphony, winner of the 2012 City of Nanaimo Cultural award and a jewel in the world of professional orchestras, launches their 20th Anniversary season and celebrates 20 years of great music, amazing musicians and wonderful audiences.

Says Pierre Simard, the VI Symphony’s illustrious artistic director, “Your Vancouver Island Symphony offers a year-round musical party… We glimpse at twenty extraordinary symphonic years with special guests, friends, family – all of which make VIS history. We also look enthusiastically into the future with gorgeous, inspiring and powerful concerts for all ages! It is the most meaningful season we have ever had.”

 Be prepared for wonderful music that satisfies every taste - from Timeless Treasures of the great classics and two world premieres, to Popular Pleasures with familiar favourites – and extra-special concerts and community events.

Timeless Treasures - Says Simard, “This series features audience favourites, outstanding soloists and delightful music.” The party begins on Saturday, October 25 with ‘Celebrate with Tetsuumi and Elgar.’ Nanaimo native, protégé and virtuoso violinist Tetsuumi Nagata comes home to perform one of the best known of all violin concertos while the orchestra presents “Fanfare” by Simard and “Enigma Variations” by Elgar. On Wednesday, November 12, the VI Symphony presents a special Remembrance Day show, ‘Lest We Forget’ featuring our friends to the South, the Victoria Symphony and the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipe and Drum Band. Then on Saturday, November 22, in ‘Mozart & Friends,’ the VI Symphony performs music that builds with grace from Elgar and Vaughan Williams to Mozart’s “Requiem”, his magnificent final masterpiece. Here the orchestra is joined by the Pacific Spirit Choir, A Capella Plus, The Island Consort and soloists. On Saturday, January 31, popular Canadian pianist Ian Parker returns to perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto no. 20” in ‘Friendship: Ian & Beethoven.’ Also featured is the world premiere of “Mix Tape” by Nanaimo native and past composer-in-residence, Jason Nett. The concert concludes with Beethoven’s most excellent “Symphony no. 7.” Then it’s ‘From Pierre with Love’ on Saturday, April 18, with the VIS Symphonic Choir. Says Simard, “Here is my 20th Anniversary gift – music which I deeply cherish!” From the sounds of gracious flowing waters, to the world premiere of a cello concerto by Vancouver composer Dorothy Chang, performed by Ariel Barnes, to the rousing close of the season with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture - what a party!

Popular Pleasures - Trumpets and horns herald in Nanaimo’s traditional VI Symphony Family Christmas with ‘A Festive Brassy Christmas’ on Saturday, December 13. The orchestra is joined by Festive Brass, the VIS Symphonic Choir and the newly formed Symphonic Children’s Choir (open to Grades 5-8) for an exciting program of soul-stirring music that is near and dear to all, from the familiar and traditional to delightful surprises. Soprano Nadya Blanchette and tenor Ken Lavigne team up on Saturday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day) for ‘He Sings, She Sighs – A Romantic Comedy,’ an original one-of-a-kind show featuring charm, passion, seduction and humour as they sing love songs and duets. Then, at last! On Saturday, March 21, ‘Tonight… Piaf’ arrives on stage with a full orchestra in this premiere performance that stars Nanaimo’s very own Joëlle Rabu. Says Simard, “Our Popular Pleasures series conveys everything love and friendship, home and heart, with eternal songs and beloved melodies.”

Special Events – The VI Symphony is also about community, and the party continues with VI Symphony extra-special events, from school shows featuring Rick Scott in “My Symphony” to the “2nd Annual Nanaimo Bar NONE” on March 14, produced by Calvin Dyck and showcasing scrumptious Nanaimo talent. And not to forget – Symphony Community Days on October 25 and April 18.

Get the best seats now! – Season and single concert tickets are on sale NOW! With the purchase of a package of all eight season concerts, or the Timeless Treasures series of five shows, or the Popular Pleasures series of three shows, the Vancouver Island Symphony offers up to 45% off the regular single ticket price. Call the Port Theatre Ticket Centre at 250-754-8550 to book your symphony tickets now!

Happy 20th! Come Celebrate with us! Experience the thrill of live symphonic music!
It’s An AWESOME Party!

For more information visit
Celebrate 20! Keeping Music LIVE!