The cast of Young People’s Opera Society of BC’s production of “Scenic Adventures: An Operatic Vacation,” performed at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre on June 2 and 3. (submitted photo)

MINTY: ‘Scenic Adventures’ and life lessons for young Surrey singers

Donation helps grow Surrey’s Young People’s Opera Society of BC

SURREY — It’s a beautiful community that has opera in it. I know this to be true because Patricia Dahlquist told me so. Patricia is a Surrey Civic Treasure and founder of the Young People’s Opera Society of BC. She breathes life into music and shares her talents with us. She started YPOSBC with The King Who Wouldn’t Sing, her own opera for young people.

This Juno-winning septuagenarian still sings opera with Opera pro Cantanti for twice-weekly rehearsals and several performances a year. She is involved, current and dedicated to the art. And I just want to say that life is a rehearsal. That interaction and learning process is constant and critical. Rehearsals are life for a performer. Just sayin’. Anyone who believes that life is not a rehearsal has not been involved in the performing arts!

YPOSBC is now in its 12th year and has produced 10 full-length operas and 11 opera concerts, and has also performed in Surrey Sings and other Surrey community events for all those years as well. The next performance for YPOSBC is a mister Blake foundation presentation named Scenic Adventures: An Operatic Vacation. Travel the world while seated in the cozy Studio Theatre at Surrey Arts Centre on June 2 and 3, 7:30 p.m. shows. Tickets are $20/$15 at tickets.surrey.ca or 604 501-5566.

You can become a member of YPOSBC, as membership is open to all ages. You can sing, be a board member or volunteer for the production team. It will take up your time, talent and whatever else you can bring. The performing arts are like that – but the rewards are great.

I feel lucky that Patricia asked me to design the costumes for three of the company’s operas: The King Who Wouldn’t Sing, Spirit Moon and The Fairy Queen. When I look at photos, I still can’t believe I did it! Patricia also convinced me that I could sing (not opera ever, but oh well). She helped me find my creative talents and my voice. I am not the only person she has helped; there are so many. One person, besides me, is mister Blake.

Mister Blake was discovered at a Steveston talent show at the age of 14, and had a hit record in North America with “I Only Want to Be With You.” Sadly, his fame was short-lived, as he was allegedly abused by the men entrusted with his career. His career died before it could take off. That is not only sad, it is just wrong.

It took years of therapy for recovery, and songwriting was mister Blake’s form of therapy. Patricia helped him reclaim his voice, and they have worked on several CDs together. It sounds so simple when you put it down in one sentence. It wasn’t, and isn’t, easy. You have to have it inside of you, and find a way to release it. And mister Blake is not just all about music either. He is a noted philanthropist and created the mister Blake foundation, which helps children all over the world. YPOSBC is his “local” project. It’s about righting the wrongs before it can become a wrong in the first place. Give communities the opportunity to create a nourishing ethos, rather than an abusive one.

Projects like YPOSBC enhance our community. Let children sing and learn about the human condition through the grand scale of opera. There is always a challenge to life in an opera – good versus evil, and truth and beauty triumph. Not a bad way to learn about the world. So take your children and go see this opera presentation, Scenic Adventures. The message and the music are a positive and powerful force in our community. Try it, at least once. It is more than music.

I don’t think that the performing arts are alone in building better communities. Friends of the Grove is a community-based organization that has really taken root in Newton – literally. This group of Newton neighbours created Friends of the Grove to “save” the huge stand of cedars beside Newton Recreation Centre. This once dark and gloomy – but magnificent – stand of trees is now a stage for music, art and play. The various activities, including small concerts, art on the trees and other projects, have created a fun and friendly place in the neighborhood.

Just like the Young People’s Opera, Friends of the Grove needs financial assistance to keep the grove groovin’. Join the Friends of the Grove cocktail party and fundraiser on Sunday, May 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Old Surrey Restaurant (13483 72nd Ave., Surrey). There will be wine tasting, canapés, coffee and tea. Displays will include Friends of the Grove, local artists and history of Newton by Surrey Archives. Canapes, wine tasting, an art exhibit and history archives. Impressive. Doors open at 5 p.m., speeches at 6:30. Tickets are $25, and dress is “business casual.” This event is supported by Newton Business Improvement Association. Tickets at fogfriends.eventbrite.ca or contact the Newton BIA, at newtonbia.com or call 604-593-2294. Fabulous.

melminty@telus.net

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