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’OpĂ©ra 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: