St. Albert refugee concerts attracts more than 30 performers


Helen Arnott just added Joseph Campbell’s telling quote in her latest email. It reads, “When you see the Earth from space, you don’t see any divisions of nation-states there. This may be a symbol of the new mythology to come; this is the country we will celebrate, and these are the people we are one with.”

In case you’ve never heard of Arnott, she spearheads the Community Refugee Committee of St. Albert and deeply believes in the oneness of assisting people in desperate straits.

The committee, which came into existence in January 2016, has partnered with St. Albert United Church with the aim of sponsoring a refugee family.

To raise funds for this expensive project, the refugee committee is hosting A World of Music, a benefit concert on Friday, April 21 at St. Albert United Church.

“Music speaks where words don’t. Music touches the soul in ways words can’t,” Arnott said.

She added the 90-minute concert, packed with a wide diversity of music concludes with Middle Eastern and East Indian snacks and refreshments.

Leading the evening is Calgary based gospel vocalist Marissa Gerard singing The Gospel of Grace and Ride On King Jesus.

“I’ve heard her sing in the past and her voice fills the sanctuary. Her voice to me is just golden,” said Arnott.

Twelve-year-old Stephanie Grace Hayden follows with the Sound of Music’s rousing I Have Confidence – a tune that perfectly illustrates the St. Albert’s Got Talent junior category winner.

Edmonton soprano Debbie Rice, a voice instructor at Concordia College, has volunteered to sing He Shall Feed His Flock from Handel’s Messiah, a powerful hymn that brings more than a few tears to listeners’ eyes.

Once again St. Albert cellist Julia Dolman, a member of Bel Suono Quartet and Kitka Quartet, displays her passion for the classics with two pieces.

She solos on Bach’s Prelude From Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major and later performs Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegle accompanied by pianist Beth McIntosh, choirmaster at Trinity United Church.

At this point there is a break where actor Kerry McPhail will improvise a story combining her ideas with audience participation, props and costumes.

The second portion resumes with The Shruti Nair, a five-piece East Indian ensemble performing classical Hindustani music.

Following is Corona Guan Wong, a Chinese student working on her doctorate of musicology at the University of Alberta, singing Swan Geese.

“It’s an adaptation of an old Mongolian folk song and she’ll be accompanying herself with a flute,” noted Arnott.

About 15 to 20 members from the University of Alberta’s vibrant MENAME (Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble) will perform five works, both instrumental and vocal, using traditional instruments.

“I attended a concert they had at Convocation Hall and I was enchanted by their music. It made me want to get up and dance. We were all clapping. You couldn’t help it.”

Just when you think the concert is over, out comes Beledyya Dance Company.

“They do some belly dancing and will come right out into the aisles. They’ll shake those hips and everyone leaves in a jolly mood.”

When Arnott was asked why assisting refugees was so important to her, she replied, “I’ve been given so much in my life and I have to pay it back. I can’t sit here and do nothing. I think every person needs to do something worthwhile in life. And I need to do this before I drop dead.”

Individuals wishing to make a donation of $25 or more can receive a tax deductable receipt by writing a cheque payable to St. Albert United Refugee Fund. On the cheque’s memo line, Arnott encourages people to write “Community CRCSA,” an acronym for Community Refugee Committee of St. Albert.


A World of Music
Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
St. Albert United Church
20 Green Grove Dr.
Tickets: $10 Advance tickets call Roslynn 780-458-6609, Helen 780-983-2105 or Alice 780-459-8797


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.