Carry a Canadian tune 

Howe Sound Performing Arts performs the nation's most inspiring songs in sing-along concert

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Sing-along Howe Sound Performing Arts in concert.
  • Photo submitted
  • Sing-along Howe Sound Performing Arts in concert.

Canada has a rich songwriting heritage, whether you like Neil Young, Nelly Furtado, The Hip or Leonard Cohen. The whole country sing their songs, the whole world does.

And it is this richness that is behind the upcoming concert by Howe Sound Performing Arts — All Things Canadian.

Veronica McPhee, the group's artistic director, says the Squamish concert was to show off the high level of talent in the corridor.

"We're not hiring a major performer, we are sharing our music with as many people as we can," she says.

"We've been diversifying more, with our types of concerts. We have a variety of instruments and genres, and we want to start the new season with a concert fairly early in the year.

"We've found that our communities are really great for supporting local musicians."

The celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary inspired the theme.

"After we chose Canadian music as the topic, we put it out there to the performers and they had to choose what they wanted to do. They chose pieces they fell in love with," McPhee says.

"In some ways, I think people forget how many songs Canadians have written that are truly amazing. You listen to the top folk repertoire or the pop repertoire you forget that a lot of these pieces are Canadian.

Once they are reminded, she adds, it is easy for most people to realize and it gives them an excuse to sing their favourite Gordon Lightfoot song.

"The other thing we thought we would do at the concert, too, is instead of being just a one-sided performance, we are also going to have a sing-along. If the performers have a favourite Canadian song that they would like to lead, we will have the lyrics up and have a sing-along," McPhee says.

"Songs like Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi or a folk song like Farewell to Nova Scotia."

Talent from Whistler, Squamish and beyond is taking part, including Whistler accordion player Sharon Schrul, and professional musician and teacher Alison Hunter on Celtic harp, accompanied by a vocalist and flautist.

There will also be performances of Loreena McKennitt songs, folk music, classical, Joni Mitchell and Avril Lavigne.

"Most of the performers are semi-professional or have extensive training. Something I find really rewarding is that all of us find such an importance in keeping music in our lives," McPhee says.

All Things Canadian takes place at St. John the Divine Anglican Church in Squamish, Friday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m. Admission by donation, with proceeds going to cover the basic costs of the concert and to support the Howe Sound Music Festival.

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