The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society’s warehouse is usually filled with the sounds of busy volunteers and staff intensely sorting, processing, and organizing food donations year round. This Tuesday, it was also filled with the sounds of the festive season brought to life by the Vancouver Bach Choir under the spirited direction of Maestro Leslie Dala.
With 27 talented voices, a group from the Vancouver Bach Choir performed an exuberant concert of holiday favourites. While the maestro sometimes accompanied the singers on keyboard, the dynamic relationship between conductor and choir was most evident with Dala at the helm, directing the carols.
In his four years as the VBC’s music director, this was his first time conducting this popular seasonal repertoire, and his warmth and passion for the performance was palpable. “It’s easy to forget at times that even communities like ours go hungry,” says Dala, “And performances like this are a small way for [the Vancouver Bach Choir] to help out by contributing to the ambiance and bringing a sense of holiday spirit.”
Vancouver’s Food Bank processes 8.5 million pounds of food per year, and the holiday season is always an important time for the organization as it receives up to 80% of donations for the entire year during this time, says Kay Thody, communications director for the GVFBS.
With Vancouver being the expensive city that it is, it isn’t surprising that we may all know someone through just one or two degrees of separation who are supported by organizations like the Food Bank. “The demand doesn’t just exist at Christmas; people are hungry 365 days of the year.” Thody says.
Although the Food Bank’s committed volunteers remained busy as elves working throughout the concert, the splendor and festivity of the performance was not lost on them. As the huge warehouse swelled with the sounds of the season, the Food Bank’s humbling work was afforded the sense of reverence and gravitas it deserves.
In partnership with the GVFBS, the Vancouver Bach Choir will also perform on two occasions at The Orpheum with all 130 award-winning voices and a splendid symphony orchestra. Christmas with the Bach Choir took place on Dec.1st and featured the choir’s entire range of vocal talent, from the tiny Piccolo choir (ages 5-7) to the esteemed adult choir, in a repertoire of Christmas favourites that included carols like O Holy Night and classics such as Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. At 8 PM on Dec. 14, the choir will perform a triumphant revival of Handel’s Messiah, the most famous work of its kind and “a fixture of the holiday season, synonymous with holiday traditions all over the world,” according to Leslie Dala. The choir will also be joined by four of Canada’s brightest young soloists including Soprano Rachel Fenlon, Mezzo-Soprano Sylvia Szadovski, Tenor Martin Sadd, and Baritone Aaron Durand for this masterpiece performance.
Guests will have the opportunity to bring donations of healthy non-perishable food items as well as monetary donations to Food Bank volunteers who will be accepting contributions one hour prior to curtain at the performance. In the spirit of the holiday season, Vancouver’s concertgoers can rest assured that their donations will feed both body and soul of those benefited by the Food Bank and VBC.
Tickets for the Dec. 14th performance are $25-59, and can be purchased online at the Vancouver Bach Choir’s website: www.vancouverbachchoir.com/tickets or by phone at 604-696-4290.
Story contributed by Alexandra Lam.