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Niverville Choral Society to Hold Second Christmas Concert

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Choral Society Practice Crop1
The Niverville Choral Society at a recent practice. Sara Beth Dacombe

The Niverville Choral Society will present their annual Christmas concert, Songs of Joy, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 9 at the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church in Niverville.

This will be the second official Christmas concert for the group, which formed in January 2020 only to immediately face gathering limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We did have our first official concert last year at Christmas, which was outside because we couldn’t be inside,” says Rob Bonefaas, director and organizer for Niverville Choral Society. “At that time, it was at the end of November and we had a singalong and we sang some choral pieces. We also had a very cold pianist. She gave it her best and the community seemed to enjoy themselves very much.”

Then, in spring of 2022, the group was able to perform its first indoor concert to a full house of around 160 people.

This time around, organizers are prepared to set up even more chairs.

“We are hoping to set up a few more chairs to facilitate the group,” says Bonefaas. “Not everyone likes to be crowded inside, especially to sing, so we will set up as many chairs as we can.”

Bonefaas says this year’s seasonal performance doesn’t have a specific theme, but the audience can expect traditional favourites—some to which they can sing along.

“It’s always nice to be able to sing things together,” he says. “It should not be too striking that we are doing some traditional carols, such as Silent Night that has such presence when sung with a choir, but also creates a quiet and soothing moment together.”

While the event will primarily feature the Niverville Community Choir (ages 17 and older), the Niverville Kids and Youth Choir will also perform beginning with an arrangement of “Do You Hear what I Hear?” The audience will then be invited to participate again in the traditional song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

The rest of the program will be a study of contrasts as the Community Choir delivers its rendition of “Carol of the Bells,” a piece with lots speed and excitement.

“It’s a really well known piece, but it goes by really fast,” says Bonefaas. “It’s really only a minute long or so and people don’t realize that.”

This will then be followed a performance of “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

The contrasting change of pace, the director explains, will help illustrate the great peace and patience that people are invited to embrace during the coldest time of the year.

“Drawing from nature, about what we are dealing with in winter, especially in a choral setting of things, the peace you can produce and enjoy in music I always find is very powerful,” says Bonefaas.

He says the overall selections for the concert will have a lot of solid, old traditional hymns, but the audience can plan to enjoy and participate in many other selections as well. From “Christmas Songs of Joy,” to “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” “Mary, Did You Know?” and others.

While the group is inspired to present mostly traditional spiritual songs for the concert, Bonefaas is especially excited about two pieces selected from the musical Sound of Music. The Kids and Youth Choir will present “Do Re Mi,” and then the main group will sing “Edelweiss.”

“The theme isn’t to be directly religious, but to be intentionally a lot more open to what we experience in different ways in stories of Christmastime,” says Bonefaas. “‘Edelweiss,’ especially, is a lovely piece where adults sing their praises and their joy of the season. It’s a together moment of adults and youth, and that’s what this time is all about.

He emphasizes that because this is not a church choir group, the goal is to bring people together from different faith traditions.

“It’s a way to get together and sing music of many kinds, and still with the theme of songs of joy,” he says. “So how much joy can we interpret in different ways? As many ways as we can.”

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