It can be said without hyperbole that St. Albert is a city where we take our great abundance of material goods for granted most of the time.
Lots of food. Bumper-to-bumper cars. Spacious homes. Closets stuffed with clothes. Yes, we live well, but not everyone in the world does.
About 25 energetic volunteers from St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church plan to try and even the playing field for some of our impoverished neighbours on a two-week mission to Mexico from June 30 to July 15.
To provide some quality aid, the church is hosting a benefit concert with Tenor Power and Friends on Sunday, May 29 to raise $5,000.
The volunteers will travel to Ensenada to help improve the quality of life and provide hope to the Oaxacan and Triqui Aboriginals. Many are marginally employed as farm labourers and often live in squalid conditions, says concert organizer and St. Albert music teacher Marliss Gunderson.
“My son went down one year and when he came back he was very bothered by how such conditions exist on the same continent. Children were malnourished. People were living in huts. When it rained the huts leaked and when there were dust storms, it was all over the place,” she explains.
Since 1998 the church has organized a mission to Ensenada, one of Mexico’s neediest areas, every second year. In that time, they’ve distributed 10,800 food hampers, donated clothes and blankets to thousands, built 34 wood-frame homes on a concrete pad, contributed to a mothers’ health program and provided school sponsorship.
This year the volunteers plan to build two homes, distribute food and offer support to Gabriel House, an orphanage with 16 severely disabled children. Just before departure, the volunteers will load a bus and travel to the port city with clothes, blankets and assorted supplies.
But it’s money that greases the wheels and Gunderson has pulled together a feisty, energetic bunch of singers for the concert. Leading the charge is Tenor Power, a trio that developed a reputation for singing swaggering, at times funny, classical arias.
“Because we were singing all over the place, and audience expectation varied, we started singing show tunes, sacred songs and pop. Now we’re even trying country and western,” chuckles Tenor Power’s Gerry Paravicini, also a member of St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Choir.
Tenor Power is planning a mix of tunes from the Broadway pop hit New York, New York to Rossini’s comical The Cat Duet. Their special surprise is Tim Zimmerman’s Lutefisk Soaked in Lye, a number where the lyrics are reworked and tailor-made for a local audience.
Also on the 90-minute program is St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Choir, the harmony-based All for Him and soprano Lindsay MacDonald. In a special salute to children, Erica Grohn, 11, and Isabel Nielsen, 10, will also sing.
“Isabel has sung with Cantilon Choir and Erica has sung a solo with the Singing Christmas Tree. Erica has a crystal clear soprano voice and Isabel also has a pure voice. Both are quite angelic.”
The concert will also parade numerous donation draws including a one-night stay in a jacuzzi suite at St. Albert Inn with a dinner for two at Luisa Restaurant.
Paravicini is gung-ho about backing this project. “You support the arts. You support the community. You support those less fortunate than yourself. Everyone has a place in helping others.”
Faith Life Funds will match all monies raised through the concert.
Tenor Power and Friends
Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m.
St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church
11 Glenview Crescent
Tickets: $15 Call the church at 780-458-6012; tickets also available at the door.