After a couple of seasons where concerts had to be cancelled, the St. Albert Singers Guild is ready to bring back the holiday cheer.
A few choirs continued singing in some capacity throughout COVID-19, but it wasn’t easy. However, the respite gave artistic director Criselda Mierau an opportunity to work through new ideas and rehash old ones. The 65 mixed adult singers are back stronger than ever with I See the Light, a two-act musical production taking place on Dec. 2 and 3 at St. Albert United Church.
“In this case, we’re using the church as part of the story. The first half takes place in a home and the second half in a church,” Mierau said.
“I wrote the Christmas show about people struggling to discover who they are, their place in the family, their place in the community, and what Christmas really means. When a fire breaks out in a family's home and their house burns down, they see the light and discover who and what is important in their lives.”
Mierau borrowed the concept and themes from a similar event during her childhood.
“My family and I lived in a small town in Saskatchewan. I was about five or six at the time. We were sitting in church and heard sirens. Our house was burning. It was an electrical issue. My older brother did not want to go to church, but fortunately my mother forced him to go. Our house burnt down and only our cat died. Stuff didn’t matter to my parents, but what struck me was how the community came out to help us. And this happens in the story,” Mierau said.
This is not just a story that played out in Small Town, Saskatchewan. She points to the numerous stories of people assisting at the Citadel Mews West fire in May 2021.
“St. Albert came out to support the seniors in droves. We heard stories of people who risked their lives to help people get out. People helped automatically. They rose to the occasion, and this is what the concert is about.”
In Mierau’s fictious tale, the mother is trying to create a perfect Christmas, two teenage daughters don’t want to help and the husband is oblivious to things. In addition, the grandparents invite a mysterious woman to the house who has a monetary agenda.
“She disrupts life to the point where the mother decides not to go to church. Everyone is shocked because she has always been so committed.”
All the repertoire focuses on different interpretations of light and the wisdom underlying this metaphor: fire, stars, sun, a new dawn and candlelight. One song that may give visitors goosebumps is composer Victor Johnson’s Stars, I Shall Find, an adaptation of Sara Teasdale’s poem.
“The lyrics are powerful. It’s very melodic and the harmonies are stunning. It has a dramatic movement where the chorus goes into a louder sound. It’s the most glorious sound.”
In another heart-grabbing moment, the Women’s Choir sings I See the Light from the movie Tangled.
“The two main characters see the light. They see what’s important is each other and not what they try to do to celebrate Christmas.”
But not all the songs are solemn. The choir also sings a loud and energetic version of Come All Ye Faithful.
“We’re going to hit it hard with a version from The Pentatonics. It's funky. Everybody breaks loose.”
For Mierau and the singers, this event is a kickoff to Christmas.
“The reason we have other people in our lives is that they supply hope, joy and love, and that’s why we are on the planet.”
In view of the increased cost of living and high demand, donations for St. Albert Food Bank are gratefully accepted at the door.
St. Albert United Church is located at 20 Green Grove Drive. General admission tickets are $20 for both concerts on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call Barb at 780-293-2842 or visit www.stalbertsingers.org.