Whistler Singers release first CD 

What: CD Release Party

Who: The Whistler Singers

Where: MY Place

When: Wednesday, April 30

The Whistler Singers musical director, Glen Irvine, loves the word "amateur" and he uses it openly when talking about his exceptional choir.

"How can that be?" I ask. The Singers are fabulous. Amateur is a word usually pinned to shoddy or lazy work. That’s not how I’d describe the Whistler Singers.

But if you take a peek at their brand new inaugural CD’s sleeve, it all becomes clear.

"Amateur is derived from the Latin word ‘amare’ which means to love," Irvine says. And love definitely goes hand-in-hand with the talented Whistler Singers.

Their sweet sounding melodies have been adored by many for the last 20 years. In their current format, 45 women and men from the Whistler-Pemberton region come together every week to share their love of singing. "Amare" indeed, and the ensemble’s president Candace Bennett-Bush agreed.

"The Whistler Singers started as a group of people who loved to drink wine and sing. We couldn’t have reached the level of musicality we are at today without that love," she said.

The Whistler Singers’ first album is called Ascend , and if you consider the growth in the group’s performance, it’s an apt title. They started in 1982 as a small, fun family of nine. As the years went by, it’s been a revolving door of voices from around the world.

"You name the country, we’ve had them in the Singers," said Bennett-Bush, who’s practically one of the original members. "A lot of people come for one season, which means we get some wonderful singers that become great friends and introduce a whole new exciting element."

That diversity and cultural influence is embraced by the Whistler Singers and reflected in Ascend’s track listing. Irvine has chosen a variety of music, from traditional scores to Canadian classics; some secular songs all the way through to translated folk anthems from around the world.

"We do a Hungarian piece, a Welsh lullaby, Japanese and Korean songs and even an African piece sung in Swahili," said Bennett-Bush.

How this group can hit the high notes let alone learn ethnic songs in the native tongue is head scratchingly impressive and requires a big commitment to get it right.

"That is definitely the case," said Bennett-Bush. "We’re not a drop-in choir for that reason. We want to be the best that we can be and so we need to keep a consistent level to maintain an even performance."

The Singers get together once a week over the winter, a little less often in the summer.

"We do have a tremendously good time doing it and Glen is an amazing teacher. The fans are really loyal, which helps us improve too. I’d say this CD is proof of how tight we are now. We’ve gone from a loose social group 20 years ago to a polished, enthusiastic force to be reckoned with today," Bennett-Bush said.

Certain big wigs in the industry would seem to agree. They had no trouble snaring Juno award-winning Don Harder to help out with the recording, and local award-winning photographer Leanna Rathkelly designed the album cover.

Join the Whistler Singers to celebrate the release of Ascend this Wednesday night, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 concession from the MY Place box office. Call 604-935-8418.


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