Northern Lights Encore Choir ready to ring in holiday season

Residents with a keen ear for music won’t want to miss out on three upcoming festive performances being hosted by the Northern Lights Encore Choir.
“We’re going to have everything from traditional to spiritual and gospel music, all based on the Christmas season,” says Sue Charest, one of approximately 40 talented members who make up the Northern Lights Encore Choir.
The choir, which is led by Director D.J. Hicks, officially kicks off the holiday season with a performance at the Nov. 25 Festival of Trees fundraiser.
The event begins at 2 p.m. in the Knights of Columbus Hall.
That will be followed by a second musical extravaganza Dec. 5 at St. John The Baptist Church in McLennan, starting at 7:30 p.m., and a third performance in High Prairie four days later (Dec. 9) at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church beginning at 3 p.m.
Charest says the McLennan and High Prairie events have been broken down into two parts, the first of which will feature several popular Christmas pieces in addition to an a cappella (a four-part harmony without accompanists Monique Carley, Shannon Hicks).
The second portion of the show will include a cantata, which Charest describes as a “continuous flow of music and narration” with different verses from different songs interlocked together. Joining in the Cantata is the children’s choir, comprised of approximately 16 children.
The McLennan performance is free of charge with a non-perishable food item donation for the Smoky River Christmas Hamper Program. Items such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, unwrapped gifts for children and cash donations are also being accepted.
Charest, who’s been a dedicated member of the choir for the past three years, says she’s looking forward to being part of the upcoming events scheduled to take place in the region.
It’s all par for the course for members like herself who’ve had music coursing through their veins since childhood.
“I was part of a choir in junior and senior high school,” she said, adding that music has always been a rich part of her family heritage.
“My grandfather played violin and my mother plays piano.”
Charest says the upcoming events are a perfect way for residents and choir members to get into the spirit of the holiday season.
“It goes a long way towards brightening the spirits of everyone in the community. For me personally, I find it to be very therapeutic. I always come away from choir practice feeling happy, even after I’ve had a bad day,” she said, adding that other choir members share those same feelings.
“We’re all in it for the same reason and that’s what is special about it,” Charest pointed out.
The Northern Lights Encore Choir, which practices out of the United Church in McLennan, began rehearsing for the performances in mid-September.
Choir members meet every Wednesday between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the local church to practice and new members are always welcome to attend.
Residents in attendance at the McLennan performance are welcome to join choir members immediately after the event for complimentary squares and refreshments in the basement of the church.
Hicks says the main emphasis of the performances is for members to enjoy the music and share it with the rest of the community.
“It’s a pleasure to work with them. We always have a lot of fun,” she said.
Admission for the High Prairie performance is $10 per person and $5 for children 12 and under, which includes a lasagna dinner, which is being served up at 5 p.m.