MINTY: No school, more time to plan ‘back to’ activities

Fall is the season for "back to" activities – music, dance, theatre and other artistic type pursuits. Of course, for young people, it is usually back-to-school time as well, but not this year for those in the public system. This year, parents have the opportunity to search out extracurricular activities without the additional stress of getting school stuff sorted. See? I can do a positive spin on the situation.

Sometimes people write to me asking for more information, or where else to look for something, like acting lessons. I actually don’t keep a file on all the organizations and classes available, but I know someone who does: The Arts Council of Surrey. I am constantly amazed at the scope of activity this volunteer organization covers.

Make the ACS your first step in search of music, dance or theatre lessons. Phone 604-594-2700, email to and visit

Now, a little music: Chris Hall, manager of Surrey Children’s Choir, wants you to know that this award-winning choir is seeking singers for its 2014/15 season.

There is actually a family of six choirs ready to welcome singers of all ages: Junior Training Choir (ages 6 -9); Intermediate Training Choir (ages 9 -12); Surrey Children’s Choir (ages 12 -18); Surrey Youth Chorus (ages 17+); Surrey Chamber Choir (by invitation) and Surrey Community Chorus (adults). Rehearsals are on Wednesdays at Ocean Cliff Elementary in South Surrey – starting at 3:45 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m., depending on the choir. Surrey Community Chorus rehearses on Thursday nights at Ocean Cliff from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

This year, there will also be a Junior Training Choir rehearsing on Thursday afternoons in North Surrey at Simon Cunningham Elementary from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. These exuberant young voices are heard often at civic and community events, and have appeared live on CBC Radio. For further information and/or to book an audition, call 604-541-2519 or email; also check the website at

We are blessed in this community with more than one children’s choir. British Columbia Girls’ Choir (BCGC) has just returned from an appearance at the famed Oregon Bach Festival and Pacific International Children’s Choral Festival (PICCFest). The BCGC singers represented the communities of Burnaby, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver.

The choir is led by Fiona Blackburn, professional singer and music educator. "It never ceases to amaze me that girls from all different backgrounds, and from all over Metro Vancouver, can meet in September and, within a few weeks, are creating fantastic music," she said. "More importantly, they are building friendships that, in many cases, last a lifetime."

This coming season, BCGC has an extensive and exciting performance and training schedule, which concludes with an extensive European tour in summer 2015. Again, you will have to do some research on your own; I could use more space, but there it is. The choir welcomes new singers for September start-up.

There are openings for girls aged five to young adult. Information is on the website at

Music you can listen to, rather than being an active performer: White Rock Chamber Music Program takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13 at Crescent Gardens Retirement Community, 1222 King George Blvd., South Surrey.

Featured performers will be pianist Vivian Wu, tenor Russell Morgan, the guitar and voice duo of Ping and Sandy Erickson, and the Page Players (Leanne Page, Conner Page and Liam Page) performing harp, guitar, piano, recorder and voice. Admission is $5. Everyone is welcome. These concerts are well attended and always a musical treat.

You know how you can know someone for more than 20 years and still not know everything about them?

Longtime friend Lyn Verra-Lay has a passion for the performing arts. I know that part. I also knew she was creative, but I didn’t know she taught art classes!

Verra-Lay is the featured artist at SAGA’s Thursday Artist Talk on Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. start at Surrey Art Gallery. Her focus will be showing you how to combine clothing from consignment stores to make one-of-a-kind outfits. Recycle, reuse, create. Admission is free. It is art, and Lyn exhibits her art in every outfit. Fun, funky and free.

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