Salt Spring Singers ‘Rise Again’ This Weekend

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ArtSpring promises to be a place of overflowing joy this weekend when the Salt Spring Singers choir presents its first concert in two years.

Called We Rise Again, the program will be a mix of seasonal tunes, some inspirational pieces and two that honour those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

The concert runs Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. All ticket purchases are in advance through ArtSpring.

As choir director Don Conley’s program message explains, “After two years of deprivation, we gather again to celebrate our joy of music and its healing effect. Singing is truly a balm for our times that has the capacity to heal and reinforce the interior beauty that lies in the core of every individual. Choral singing brings unity of soul and heart and reminds us of our deeper true nature.”

The Dec. 11-12 performances will appropriately open with the We Rise Again title song by Leon Dubinsky, followed by We Are the World, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie for the 1985 Live Aid multi-artist concert that raised funds for Ethiopian famine relief.

Beautiful pieces called The Ground by Ola Gjeilo and In Remembrance by Jeffery L. Ames will acknowledge the human losses of the pandemic, and the audience will join in for an in-the-round song called Love is Love.

Seasonal music includes the first movement of John Rutter’s Gloria, four Spanish carols, an old French carol, Sir Christèmas, Jingle Bells, Christmas Angel, the comedic Twelve Days of Christmas Confusion and the Hallelujah, Amen from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus.

In addition to enjoying singing together again, Conley said choir members look forward to being of service to the community.

“I think the choir and myself believe this is something we can do to lift people up at this time, so this is a motivator,” he said. “A lot of people have been isolated and haven’t been out much, so this is an opportunity to come out and experience something that’s live safely.”

Conley said precautions will ensure the event is a safe one. Both choir and audience members will wear masks and be distanced. Audience capacity is still at 50 per cent at ArtSpring this month, and all patrons must show proof of double vaccination.

“All choir members are double vaccinated and some have had boosters,” said Conley.

Due to COVID the choir is both smaller than it was and has also been rehearsing a bit differently: in two smaller groups and distanced.

“We had to retrain in how to hear the rest of the choir when we are distanced.”

Conley said his singers have risen to the challenge and achieved a beautiful sound.

“They are doing a fantastic job,” he said.

Deb Smith is the choir’s assistant conductor and James Yee is the accompanist.

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