Monday, May 27, 2024
May 27, 2024

‘Miracle’ multi-choir concert as fest begins

By Kirsten Bolton

For ArtSpring

After months of planning, ArtSpring’s 25th Anniversary Festival takes to the stage Wednesday, April 17, with its Opening Celebration of local arts and performers in a community event not to be missed.    

After a special Indigenous dance of welcome, for the first time — in what may be a technical and logistical miracle — all of Salt Spring’s community choirs will combine to lend their voices to one occasion, including Viva Chorale!, Salt Spring Singers, Women of Note, United Church Choir, Bach on the Rock, GISS Jazz and The Lost Chords.   

The evening also includes a collection of dance pieces from Claire Whitelaw and GISS dancers, an appearance from this year’s recent national bronze medal winning GISS Improv Troupe, and some big band tempo from the always popular Swing Shift, among other acts before a reception in the gallery.  

“Our festival producer Christina Penhale has done a wonderful job of capturing the tone and creating a real sense of community, both in terms of who is on stage and who is welcomed to be a part of the festivities,” said executive and artistic director Howard Jang. “From children and students, to families, to seniors — the spirit is very much that everyone is invited.”  

With more than 30 events, activities, performances, demos, and workshops over the course of five days — most of them drop-in and free of charge — ArtSpring promises to be a vibrant hub for the community to create, connect, or even discover artists, groups, or guilds for the first time.  

The Painters, Basketry, and Spinners and Weavers Guilds are all represented with workshops, glass artists will spin their magic, Japanese drummers take to the stage, and a traditional Chinese tea service will be at the stone table in the meadow next to ArtSpring.  

Penhale, whose Stagecoach youth actors will be giving a sample of their upcoming The Enchanted Bookshop production on April 19, wanted to ensure family-friendly programming for the 25th Festival.   

“It was important to have lots of activities for kids and families,” said Penhale. “We have a kids arts activity table and stone painting on Friday and Saturday, a Scavenger Hunt activity with Seth Berkowitz’s archival lobby exhibition, fun face painting on Saturday, and opportunities to see other young people perform.”  

Another community-wide free event that involves food, face-painting, music and dance is Thursday’s first of its kind “finger food potluck” from 6:30-8:00 p.m. followed by a dance party with cover band Everyday People from 8-10 p.m. Potluck participants can drop off dishes from 5 p.m. onwards with clear labels about possible allergens. This is a cash-bar event.  

Closing Ceremonies is another opportunity to gather, celebrate, and join the community with cake and thoughts of the future. An all-star local line-up of Oak & Bone, Makana Youth Choirs, Yael Wand, GISPA Dance students, the Jazz & Blues Society with Sue Newman, a special ArtSpring storyteller, and Billie Woods and El Jose will bring down the house with The Cuban Party.  

In what has been a rather underground campaign, Salt Springers are also invited to contribute painted stones to the Art Rocks Garden to literally bring colour, voices, and creativity to the front doors of ArtSpring. If you have a statement or image about art itself, Salt Spring, nature, a loved one, your family or organization – residents are encouraged to drop off a rock to be part of a permanent collection.   

Festival schedule, tickets, and registrations available online at artspring.ca or at the Box Office Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.   

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