Sweet Scarlet celebrates the holiday season in Whistler 

The six-piece, all-women a cappella group makes its local debut at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Sunday, Dec. 16

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Sweet Scarlet is doing their part to promote the wonders of Whistler.

The six-piece, all-women a cappella group from Vancouver recently sold out their Winter Songs holiday concert at the Blueshore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts in North Vancouver. Instead of telling fans seeking tickets to try their luck next year, the group has been encouraging them to come to their upcoming show in Whistler on Dec. 16—their last of the holiday season.

“We have mentioned that to a lot of people who have been asking for tickets,” says Vista Trethewey, one member of the group. “We’ve been giving them information about Whistler. You can go ski the slopes and come see Sweet Scarlet.”

That sold-out show is a bit of a milestone for the group, which first formed seven years ago. While their holiday shows have been gaining popularity over that time, this is the largest venue—seating 400 people—that has sold out.

“We started out in smaller venues,” Tretheway says. “Our very first Christmas concert was friends and family … It’s the first year where we were sold out weeks in advance. It’s a great feeling; it shows how far we’ve come in seven years.”

For many, their holiday shows—which range from traditional Christmas songs to jazz and classical offerings—have become somewhat of a tradition. “Last year, we asked our audience specifically how many people have made Sweet Scarlet an annual tradition,” Tretheway says. “A third of them put up their hands.”

Part of the group’s appeal is their complex arrangement of six voices—and the magic that comes with creating such a full sound without instruments. To that end, Tretheway says they enjoy the challenge of complicated pieces and finding a way to make those songs work. “People don’t expect the power we generate with six voices,” she says. “They also don’t expect the songs we do with six lines; we almost always pick songs with six separate lines. Each of us has become strong enough to hold that line and make sure it shines.”

Despite the fact that they all have day jobs and families, the group meets once and week, though they ramp that number up during the holidays and in the spring when they have their highest number of performances. Their lives might be busy, but singing together has become an important creative outlet for each of them, Tretheway says.

“It gives us the opportunity to get out together with women we care about and respect once a week,” she adds. “It gives us an outlet, a break, something fun … It’s a lot of important things each of us needs in our lives.”

The group’s busy Christmas season will come to a close when they make their Whistler debut at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church as part of the Whistler Chamber Music Society’s concert series on Dec. 16.

The family-friendly show will include jazz arrangements, traditional pop arrangements of classic songs and contemporary pieces. “We have a brand new piece called ‘Veni Veni,’” Tretheway says. “It’s beautiful and really difficult.”

Locals—and perhaps some North Vancouver residents—can also expect “fun and a lot of Christmas cheer,” she says. “They can expect really intricate harmonies and beautiful music. Hopefully, at the very end, they can expect to leave with the spirit of the season warmer in their hearts.”

Sweet Scarlet performs at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for youth (ages 35 and under) available online here, at the Whistler Museum (cash only) or at the door.

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