Peace Arch Chorus during a performance at Newton Cultural Centre in 2018. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

ARTS COLUMN

MINTY ON ARTS: Love to sing? In Newton, Peace Arch Chorus hits right notes with open house nights

Also at Newton Cultural Centre, BC Bonsai Society is set to hold its Surrey Artisans Show

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

Is there a positive relationship between participation in the arts and your general well-being? Of course, I believe that to be true. Sometimes it is an avenue to escape the stress of “real” life when we play a character on stage, sing with a group, learn to tap dance, or immerse ourselves in a good book – or even write a story. Draw, weave, create, make clay pots. Doesn’t really matter. Just do something that is apart from the daily struggle for survival.

Many reports have been written regarding the positive effects of the arts. You can find lots online. Surrey Libraries will assist you in the search. Our library programs offer so much more than just a selection of books. Did you know that the library offers courses on creative writing, interior design or even a course on how to start your own arts and crafts business. Oh, the wonders you will find. Their motto is discover- connect – inspire. Check out the website, surreylibraries.ca.

Or maybe the library is “too quiet” for you and you would like to engage in some mental well-being by singing. As it happens, this month the Peace Arch Chorus is holding two nights of open houses, on May 15 and May 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Newton Cultural Centre, 13530 72nd Ave.

Peace Arch Chorus, which has been singing for more than 40 years, is a chorus made up of fun, fantastic women of all ages, and diverse singing backgrounds. PAC is a member of Sweet Adelines International and has competed numerous times at the region 26 competitions.

The group is dedicated to not only loving music, but learning music and achieving excellence in singing barbershop harmony. It’s a sisterhood, and they really would like to join them at one or both of these open houses. Don’t be shy. I am told it is a fabulous, fun night at rehearsals (every Wednesday at Newton Cultural Centre), and these open-house nights will give you a chance to sing with the chorus on the risers. There’s no better way to find out if a chorus is the right fit than to jump in with both feet and try it out, so they say.

Not sure what part you sing? Not a problem! Chorus director Emma Honrud will perform a quick (and painless!) vocal test to see what range best fits you, and then you can test out the music on the risers with the chorus. It is really not as scary as it sounds. I have about a three-note range in my singing voice, and I am tempted to try out. I definitely need someone to follow but hey, I must be hitting the right note some of the time.

• READ MORE: Female ‘Fusion’: Sweet Adelines groups sing barbershop in Surrey, from April 2018.

Honrud has been directing Peace Arch Chorus since 2014. The daughter of barbershop-ers, she has grown up with barbershop music and has been singing in quartets and choruses for many years. Her mom sang with the PAC when she was a young girl, so she has come full-circle when she took over the reins as director. Honrud is an enthusiastic director, with lots of experience, musical knowledge and a passion for teaching.

If you think you might like to audition, you have one month before you audition to become a member. You can spend this time singing with PAC, getting to know everyone and practicing your audition piece. The audition piece is sung with four current members (the same part as you, to help you if needed). Still a bit nervous. Membership co-ordinator Jude Goodwin will greet you at the door if you send her an email (jude@goodwinstudios.com) prior to the rehearsal you’d like to attend. Membership in PAC is good for your mental and physical well-being. Hold that thought and sing out.

Newton Cultural Centre is a lovely place to rehearse. Do you already have a creative group that needs rehearsal or meeting space? Contact NCC. The available spaces include The Gallery (usually where art hangs on the wall), which accommodates up to 30 people. The conference room is 535 square feet and can hold up to 40 people, and the theatre/rehearsal hall holds up to 100 people. Chairs, tables, risers and kitchen facilities are all on site. Contact the Arts Council of Surrey (they operate the NCC) at 604-594-2700 or info@artscouncilofsurrey.ca.

The BC Bonsai Society is holding its 13th annual Surrey Artisans Show at Newton Cultural Centre on Sunday, June 2. OK, bonsai is an art? Of course it is. This presentation will include more than just a large display of bonsai tress by also artsy, craftsy things from Fraser Valley Potters Guild and Fraser Valley Woodturners Guild. Gotta love the concept. Free admission, and the doors are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interesting. Put this exhibit on your to-do list if you are looking for something a little different. It is quite an amazing world after all.

CLICK HERE to read more columns by Melanie Minty.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email: melminty@telus.net.

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