SURREY — It’s December – you know, the month where we put up lots of lights because the days are so dark and we want to be festive. You might also be a participant in Mall Madness Shop-a-Thons, and other such things that come with this season. Oh, do let us all be festive. The reason doesn’t matter. We can celebrate that we live here in an ethnically and culturally diverse community. Aren’t we lucky.
Surrey Arts Centre is filled with celebrations every day. You are invited to participate. Start here: Next Thursday morning (Dec. 10), acclaimed pianist Sarah Hagen, host of the arts centre’s Classical Coffee Concerts series, performs a solo show with a special lunchtime meet-and-greet afterward. Soup, coffee, tea and punch will be provided, but you can bring a brown bag lunch if you wish. Tickets are priced from $25 at the box office (604-501-5566, also Tickets.surrey.ca).
Let me tell you a little about Hagen, who is the BC Touring Council Artist of the Year for 2015 and has been heard in concert halls and on the airwaves throughout North America and Europe. She has performed twice at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, first with Polish flutist Krzysztof Kaczka and later as a first-prize-winner in the 2013 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition. She is the artistic director for Pro’ject Sound, a performance project involving live piano with large-scale projected images. She curates, hosts and performs in several concert series in B.C. and Alberta, sharing the stage with artists from around the world.
I wish I could be there on Dec. 10 but alas, it’s not in my work schedule. Hagen is not only an interesting person who plays the piano, she is also an avid tap dancer! Now that did get my attention. Since her move in 2011 to an artist loft in one of Vancouver’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, she has become deeply involved with intricate projects inspired by urban vitality. In addition to writing wine reviews for her blog, Artist Wines – “Uncorking musician-priced cellar secrets” – Hagen composes silly songs for the ukulele and tap dancing. Her debut solo album, “Glass House Dancing,” was nominated for Classical Recording of the Year at the 2009 Western Canadian Music Awards. She is so very accomplished and diverse.
Hagen’s motivation is the belief that music has the power to be a window into our souls, regardless of age or knowledge. Still not convinced? Well, ’tis the season for gift giving, and on Dec. 10 the Surrey Arts Centre will also hold a draw for an “arts lover” gift basket and theatre tickets.
While we are celebrating, let’s all give a big Surrey shout-out for Surrey Arts Centre. It is a magical place, and I just love it. The theatre space is definitely expensive for community groups to rent, but it is a great space, for sure. Last Friday night, I was there to see the Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s panto production of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Talk about magic! I was stunned and amazed at the quality and artistic achievements by cast and crew. Love the magic beanstalk, the 15-foot giant, and – maybe especially – the minions. Yes, real minions just like in the movies. The show runs until Dec. 6, and tickets are really affordable. Take the whole family. It is truly fee, fi, fo, FUN. Bring an unwrapped toy for Surrey Christmas Bureau to put under the beanstalk in the Lobby. What? You thought it should be a tree? Fee, fi, fo and ho, ho, ho.
The traditional pantomime is a popular production for this time of year. Maybe we just all need some silliness and laughter. This year, White Rock Players’ Club presents “Cinderella” at Coast Capital Playhouse. I have heard from cast members that tickets are selling fast – they always do, it is part of the tradition – but with shows running until Jan. 2, there should be a date that is right for you. Tickets are $22 for adults/seniors and $15 for children 12 and under. For show times and tickets, visit Whiterockplayers.ca or call 604-536-7535.
Celebrate the season. Any reason will do.