MELANIE MINTY: Spring is singing with young talent

SURREY — Ahh, it is spring with sunshine and showers and a bloom of young talent waiting to blossom. The White Rock Chamber Music program has long been a showcase for both emerging talent and professionals. These music concerts have found a home at Crescent Gardens Retirement Residence, 1222 King George Blvd., South Surrey. While it may seem an odd space at first look, it certainly has its benefits. Everyone is welcome, admission is only $5 and the money goes to scholarships. And isn’t that just like spring itself, with a combination of sunshine and showers that give a great result.

The next concert in the series is this Saturday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. Featured in the concert will be Margaret Chandler (flute) with Marion Postgate (piano), along with the Sandpiper Recorder Ensemble, Hummingbird Vocal Trio and young singer-guitarist trio of Ava Carich, Richard Tichleman and Josh Bogert.

If you have never attended one of these concerts, here is a little background on the latter three performers: Josh Bogert, a Grade 9 student at Elgin Park Secondary, began his musical training at the age of four, with classical violin.

He has since expanded his repertoire to include guitar, tenor saxophone, drums, vocals and writing his own music. Josh sings with White Rock Children’s Choir and is an enthusiastic member of the high school’s concert and jazz bands – what an asset to any music program.

Richard Tichelman is 15 years old, began singing at age nine, and has been a vocal student of Don Wolf since 2011. He sang with White Rock Children’s Choir from 2011 to 2013 and this year came second in the Teen Fest in Cloverdale. In 2014, he was selected as one of 12 finalists (out of 4,000 across Canada) in "The Next Star" on YTV (season seven). He has performed at several local events, including opening for Powder Blues Band at White Rock Sea Festival in 2014. Richard won third place in the BC Junior Talent Search, among other achievements.

Singer-songwriter Ava Carich wrote her first song, "Player," in 2011 and recorded it in 2012. She’s been playing guitar for seven years and is teaching herself piano. Ava’s been singing publicly for four years, performed weekly at Organic Connections for over a year and sings at many local community events. Ava is currently writing songs, enjoying school and planning her future. She sings with White Rock Children’s Choir.

Yes, it looks like we also have to congratulate White Rock Children’s Choir for giving these gifted kids an opportunity to sing and hone their talents.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many people devote their "spare" time to amateur music and theatre. Sometimes I find it difficult to fit being an audience member into my schedule of activities. But hey, audiences are important. Where would the performers be without us?

You still have another week to catch Surrey actress Margaret Shearman (as Martha O’Conner) in Vagabond Players production of The O’Conner Girls. Shearman is a newcomer to Bernie Legge Theatre, having previous worked with White Rock Players and Peninsula Productions in a variety of capacities, both backstage and on it. She was last seen on stage in The Crucible with White Rock Players’ Club, and she is thrilled to be performing again, this time with New Westminster’s historic Vagabond Players Society.

Bernie Legge theatre is in New Westminster’s Queen’s Park. This is another community theatre venue you should check out sometime. Good productions, affordable prices.

The play also features Karen Golden, Kathleen Kelly Driscoll, Mary Adams and Chuck Buckley. Directed by Wayne Nolan, The O’Conner Girls runs from April 2 to 18. For tickets and more info, call 604-521-0412 or email

Many of our community arts organizations work under volunteer power. Some revenue comes from government grants, but not much. Ticket sales account for most of the revenue for the White Rock Chamber Music program and Vagabond Players, as well as many other community arts clubs.

Every year, BC Culture Days creates opportunities for British Columbians of all ages to experience and enjoy the exciting, inspirational work of artists and arts organizations in communities throughout the province.

The provincial government is helping to ensure the event will be a great success again this year by providing funding to support BC Culture Days. British Columbia’s Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is providing almost $90,000 this year for BC Culture Days, including $60,000 for 2015 BC Culture Days events in September and $29,000 for the BC Culture Days Ambassadors program this spring.

Last year, Surrey was chosen as the kick-off site for BC Culture Days. It was a huge honour for our city – but it was not as well attended as I thought it might be. Don’t let it happen again. Culture Days are coming once again in September. Be ready.

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