For any self-respecting choir leader, December is usually the time to shine. Between holiday sing-alongs and Whistler’s long-running Christmas Eve Carol Service, there is no shortage of ways to ring in the festive season. But after the COVID-19 pandemic limited opportunities to sing together, Christmas 2020 was an unusual one for local choir leader Jeanette Bruce.
“It was strange not to have multiple performances. The season felt different without that stuff,” says the director of Whistler Children’s Chorus and Barbed Choir. “I can’t separate Christmas from choirs. They’re kind of inextricably linked in my mind.”
Thankfully, there is no shortage of ways to mark the yuletide this year, with a jam-packed schedule of musical events beginning as early as next week. Especially for a town of transplants like Whistler, the chance to come together once more at what can be a lonely time of year for so many is long overdue, according to Whistler Singers director Alison Hunter.
“In a lot of Christmas songs, you hear about hope and joy and peace and goodwill, and I think quite often it triggers those emotions in people. Whistler is a tough one because we have a lot of people a long way from home, which is one reason why the Christmas Eve Carol Service has been so important over the years,” she says.
With that, here is Pique’s roundup of the choral and chamber concerts on tap this month for all ye merry revellers.
Roving Christmas Carollers: Dec. 3, 4, 10 and 11
No Christmas is complete without carollers, and this year the Whistler Singers will be belting out your favourite holiday tunes on two separate weekends.
Carollers will be roaming around the village from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 and Friday, Dec. 10, and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. Singing is also planned for Creekside, weather permitting, on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Barbed Choir’s Holiday Singapalooza: Dec. 10
Whistler’s popular rock ‘n’ roll choir returns to rock the socks off that grandma so generously bought you last Christmas.
A laidback, adult choir that requires no prior singing experience (or talent!), at 7 p.m. on Dec. 10, Barbed Choir will be learning Darlene Love’s version of the classic holiday ditty, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” the first song the choir ever sang at its inaugural Singapalooza.
“Everybody’s welcome as long as they can provide proof of vaccination, and like all Barbed Choir events, everyone is expected to sing. So there’s no audience, it’s just the Barbed Choir,” Bruce says.
Entry is by donation to the Whistler Food Bank, and proof of vaccination and masks are required.
Find more information at facebook.com/groups/barbedchoir.
Winter Lights Whistler Singers Concert: Dec. 12
Its first live concert since 2019, the Whistler Singers will be celebrating the season in song, starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.
The Whistler Children’s Chorus will also be featured in the show, which will feature “a good mixture of popular music and traditional Christmas music,” Hunter says.
The event is also by donation to the food bank and proof of vaccine and masks are required for attendees.
A Winter’s Song Solstice Concert: Dec. 19
Both Bruce and Hunter will take off their choral hats on Dec. 19 for a night of festive chamber music at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.
Featuring Hunter on the harp, the Vancouver Opera Orchestra’s Anne Elise-Keefer on flute, and Bruce on vocals, the concert kicks off at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, and $20 on the day of, available at tinyurl.com/e6d2vsnr or in-person at the Whistler Museum.
“We’re having a lot of fun prepping,” Hunter says.
Proof of vaccine and masks are required for attendees.
Christmas Eve Carol Service
Like last year, Whistler’s long-running Christmas Eve Carol Service will be held virtually, with a pre-recorded video sing-along led by the Whistler Singers released at 4 p.m. Dec. 24 to their YouTube page.
Whistler’s longest-running arts event, this will mark the 38th annual Christmas Eve Carol Service in the resort.
“It will be like it was at the Westin [pre-pandemic], but you’re in the comfort of your own home. Maybe you can enjoy something warm or a glass of wine while you’re singing with your loved ones,” Hunter says.
The Whistler Children’s Chorus is also accepting new members in the new year. Anyone interested in joining the choir for kids in Grades 1 to 7 should email Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org.