MORRISBURG – St. James Anglican Church in Morrisburg was utterly packed on Sunday, December 10, for Christmas Around the World, featuring the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Kingston Youth Choir.
And judging by the bravos and sustained ovations at the conclusion of the concert, the audience left exhilarated by the performances of these young people, who range in age from 13 to 25.
Isabelle Delage, of Tilted Steeple Productions in Morrisburg, was instrumental in bringing the WIYSO to Morrisburg in 2016. The response was so great then, that she asked them to return this year. Joining them in concert in 2017, for its first visit to South Dundas, was the Kingston Youth Choir. The combination of the two groups was magic.
The Orchestra was conducted by David Martin, who is its artistic director, a composer, an arranger, a renowned trombonist and Associate Professor and Head of Brass at the Université de Montréal.
Emily McPherson is the founder of, and conducts the Kingston Youth Choir. She is a collaborative pianist with Queen’s University, an accomplished musician who has performed with the Capital Chamber Choir, the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir and assistant conductor for the Antigonish Choral Ensemble of Nova Scotia.
The musicianship of both youth groups was very impressive.
The Choir’s a cappella ‘Carol of the Bells’ was stunning, as were their beautiful renditions of the African carol ‘Betelehemu’ and the Paraguayan ‘Nochebuena Paraguaya’ (both of which were arranged by David Martin for combination with the Orchestra).
The Kingston Youth Choir possesses some powerful, striking voices among its members.
“I started the group to encourage kids’ interest in music,” director Emily McPherson said. “Our whole purpose is to create a good musical experience, a good social experience and the chance of creating a community of music. We provide on opportunity for all kids to come out and sing.
Actually,” McPherson added, “the Choir was incredibly excited to be invited to sing with the Youth Symphony. It is a very rare and wonderful opportunity for them.”
The West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra presented a program of music that was widely varied, challenging and spectacular. Whether the orchestra was performing the more traditional Humperdinck ‘Overture to Hansel and Gretel’, or Leroy Anderson’s exuberant ‘A Christmas Festival’, their music was intoxicating.
It was also a pleasure to see the young Concert Master lead her fellow artists in the concert. At the end of the performance, Maestro Martin presented her with flowers.
The entire South Dundas community also benefited from this special concert at St. James.
Both Martin and McPherson waived their conducting fees for this performance. And travel expenses for the Choir and the WIYSO were covered by Brister Insurance and Horner & Pietersma.
Consequently, the profits from Christmas Around the World were all donated to two South Dundas charitable organizations, the Community Food Share and the Refugee Sponsorship Efforts.
Isabelle Delage thanked the musicians, the sponsors and the “army of volunteers” who made the concert possible.