FLEETWOOD — Northwood United Church is a new venue for the Lyric Singers, both for rehearsals and at least one performance.
The a capella women’s choir will sing at the spacious church, in the 8800-block of 156th Street, during its “Lyric at Christmas” concert on Saturday evening (Dec. 12).
Northwood is where the group now also rehearses on Monday evenings, in a recent move from Fraser Valley Christian High School, also in Surrey.
“They (Northwood) have been very inviting,” said Peter Rahn, the choir’s business manager and publicist, “but it’s important to note that we’re not a church choir, we’re a community choir that draws from all over the Lower Mainland.”
The choir, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014, is directed by Nancy Rahn, Peter’s wife.
Usually, about two dozen women sing with the choir. “But we’re down to about 20 or 22 choir members this year,” Peter noted. “My wife is always willing to audition people but she’s not willing to take just anybody. She wants people who can sing, you know?”
Nancy took control of the choir in 2002 from founder Marjorie Boerema, who had moved to the U.S. with her husband. Under Boerema’s direction, the group was known as The Lyric Choirs of Surrey and had launched a local Christmas tradition known as the Boar’s Head Madrigal Dinner, a medieval-style event featuring a spit-roasted pig, costumes and carol singing.
The tradition has continued with the present-day Lyric Singers at a church in Newton, but not this year. The choir’s Christmas concert is held every second year, Peter explained.
“We used to do the Boar’s Head every year and then discovered it’s hard to find a church or group that can provide the food services and also the appropriate space for the music, so it’s a bit of a struggle,” he said. “We’re looking at a new spot to hold that, perhaps at (Northwood). It’s a wonderful space.”
The Boar’s Head event is “a huge draw,” Peter noted, “but I would stress that our Christmas concerts are pretty unique, too. This year we’ll be using quite a few good instrumentalists, so we have quite a bit of good stuff going on, in addition to the choir, which sings at a very high level. It’s a real variety we’re doing. It’ll be a really good concert.”
Guest instrumentalists will be cellist Ben Goheen, trumpeter Christopher Robertson and violinists Jeremy Ferland and Alana Lopez, along with pianist Betty Suderman.
“My wife is a very good programmer,” Peter said, “and she really gets people walking out of the (concert venue) on a high.”
The Lyric Singers’ 2015-16 season features three concerts in a series that began Oct. 24 in New Westminster, continues Saturday in Surrey (starting at 7:30 p.m.) and concludes May 7 with a “Bouquet of Spring” performance at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New West. Wherever the choir sings, audiences can expect everything from Renaissance music to present-day works in SSAA style – that is, two distinct soprano sections and two distinct alto sections.