MELANIE MINTY: Audition dates for ‘Surrey Shines’ this weekend (Jan. 11-12)

SURREY — Happy New Year. Sure, it’s just another day on the calendar, and nothing too extraordinary. Kids are almost ready to return to school after the long holiday break. It can certainly be a relief for parents to be able to send their offspring back to school. There is only some much time that can be spent on Playstations, XBoxes, cell phones and watching cable TV.

The digital electronic era is quite remarkable and fascinating, but there is nothing that can compare with actually venturing outside, finding physical challenges and interacting with real friends that does not involve either texting, tweeting, Facebooking, messaging or (the almost outdated now) emailing. Meet with real friends in real time.

For Surrey students aged 13 to 19, here is an opportunity to get together with some friends and participate in Surrey Shines. If you dance, sing or have a band, the Youth Arts Council of Surrey would like you to audition for Surrey Shines. This Surrey youth talent showcase is holding auditions on Jan. 11 at Newton Cultural Centre and on Jan. 12 at Tom Lee Music for the bands. Auditions are by appointment only, so contact the arts council right now at, or call 604 594-2700. There will be a mandatory rehearsal on Jan. 31 with a Feb. 1 performance.

Rehearsing for a performance is important. Even more important is to be totally prepared for an audition. You may have some native talent, but that will not guarantee a successful audition. It’s like applying for a job. Ace the interview, the rest is easy. Play with your friends – and call it a rehearsal practice.

Had you thought of joining something like the BC Girls’ Choir but just aren’t sure if it would work for you? This premiere choir of girls (sorry guys) invites new singers for the 2014 season. Now is the time to try it out by participating in a rehearsal – at no charge. This is a good year, the 10th-anniversary season. Concerts, camp and festival performances and hosting the famous Australian Girls Choir, plus opening for The Nylons in a Valentine’s Day concert are all part of the plan.

Girls as young as Grade 1 may start in the Novice Choir. The singers then graduate through a system of levels to the elite choir, which accepts professional engagements and tours internationally. These singers are generally of high school age and in the past they have sung in Australia, China, Europe, Central and around North America. They have been called a "Canadian gem."

As well as touring, an important aspect of the program is community outreach. The girls help to raise funds and awareness for worthy causes, such as food banks, disaster relief and societies that deal with young peoples’ issues – anti-bullying and kids help lines, to name a few. Choir director Fiona Blackburn notes, "When the girls have been given the gift to sing beautifully, and when they work so hard to better their skills, it adds to their sense of accomplishment to know that they can affect the lives of others with their talent. They can have a real, tangible and farreaching effect on their community." This sense of community and making the world a better place is one of my missions in life. I think we can accomplish much through music and dance. Being a member of the BC Girls Choir may be your place to make a difference. Sure, you can also learn to sing with confidence and perform beautiful music that touches the heart. So, it’s not a bad activity to start another new year.

To reserve your space for an introductory rehearsal/audition, phone or email Lynn van Zanten at 604-542-1698 or Visit the choir’s website at

I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but for all you visual artists out there – I am definitely going to try to get more of your events incorporated in my writings for 2014. Surrey Arts Centre and Surrey Art Gallery Association are excellent places to start on this project. Every month, SAGA hosts a Thursday Artist Talk at the gallery. Next one is on Jan. 9, starting at 7:30 p.m. Surrey-based artist Rhonda Philips will discuss her painting process – watercolours can be tricky – techniques and inspirations. It’s free, informative and will put you in touch with other like minds who also think that watching paint dry is exciting. Try something new in the New Year. Just sayin’.

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