Gary Cyr leads Delta Ukulele Circle sessions at North Delta Centre for the Arts. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Gary Cyr leads Delta Ukulele Circle sessions at North Delta Centre for the Arts. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

MUSIC

Ukulele Circle players find new home in North Delta after move from Surrey venue

Gary Cyr-led jams attract dozens of uke strummers from around the region

Strummed, picked and otherwise played, ukulele music now fills North Delta Centre for the Arts on the first Saturday afternoon of every month.

Delta Ukulele Circle gatherings attract dozens of musicians from across the region to the theatre on 84 Avenue, starting at 2:30 p.m. and ending at 5, with the next session on April 2.

The group is led by Gary Cyr, 71, a longtime ukulele instructor and retired letter carrier. With the help of a band, Cyr leads the “uke” players, both novice and not, through mostly ’60s/’70s folk, pop and rock tunes.

The “pay as you go” admission is a modest $5 per event, with song books available for purchase.

“We’re now known as Delta Ukulele Circle, which is a new name because we used to be the White Rock Ukulele Circle,” Cyr explained.

“We were at Semiahmoo House for almost 10 years, but they decided to go with programs on the weekends and we lost that venue, which was a wonderful venue,” he added. “At the same time that we vacated there, COVID hit. We did have one session at Crossroads United Church, just the one time, and then the pandemic hit and we were shut down for almost two years.”

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Starting last fall, the group secured the new North Delta Centre for the Arts as a venue.

“I was really excited to be in North Delta, my dream, because I live here and I taught here and I’m keen to do something community-based,” Cyr said. “I taught ukulele at my home and also at Kennedy Seniors Centre and in White Rock at the Kent Street Centre.”

The March circle filled the theatre with mostly senior-aged ukulele players.

“Today is the first day where we really got quite a good number of people, around 70 participating,” noted Cyr, who said players come from East Vancouver, Surrey, Mission, Coquitlam and other cities. “It’s quite a draw,” he added. “We welcome people of all ages but it tends to be a senior crowd, 55 and up, but there are younger people and we definitely encourage them to come out.”

The ukulele is a very approachable instrument, Cyr insisted.

“It’s portable and it’s very conducive to gathering together in groups like this. It’s not a bulky instrument, and you can get a lot of ukulele players in the same room together. It’s easy to learn and it’s also an instrument that has a lot of potential for professional musicians. It’s also extremely versatile, for many genres of music. We’ve seen a real ukulele revival over the past 15 years or so.”

North Delta Centre for the Arts is located at 11425 84th Ave. For entry to Delta Ukulele Circle sessions, proof of COVID vaccine is required at this time, along with ID, but masks are no longer mandatory.

Online, details are posted to deltaukes.com.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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