Cherished Christmas music in store Saturday

There will be 65 voices in the chorus, and another 25 CSO players performing in the symphony

Joanne Hankey of Chilliwack (foreground) and Miya Otake of Vancouver are two of the featured harpists in the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra's annual concert

The delicate sound of the harp will be front and centre during A Christmas You Can Handel, on Dec. 14 at the Cultural Centre presented by the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

A spectacular variety of both eclectic and traditional Christmas music is in store for Chilliwack music fans on Saturday night.

There will be 65 voices in the chorus, and another 25 CSO players performing in the symphony this year.

“I’m really excited about this concert, as I think it will offer the best of both worlds,” says resident conductor Paula DeWit. “From the eclectic first half with harp, piano and choir, to the second half that is devoted to Handel’s Messiah, these are some of my favourite elements.”

Here are some of the program highlights, with a few sparkling gifts being kept under wraps until the night of the concert.

CSO resident harpist Miya Otake will be on concert harp, while harpist Joanne Hankey will be performing on the Celtic harp, and together they will perform the Winter Harp arrangements of I Wonder as I Wander, Huron Carol, and In the Bleak Midwinter.

Sarah Dyck will play flute, bass flute and penny whistle.

The sound of harp strings being plucked has been likened to the sound of someone’s voice.

“It’s the closest sound I know to the human voice, and just looking at the instrument itself is beautiful. There are so many different sizes and shapes.”

Incredibly, a total of 10 harps will be performed on stage during the first half, and one of those will be the CSO’s concert harp.

“Thanks have to go out to the Chilliwack Foundation, as the CSO is most fortunate to own a concert harp of its own,” says DeWit.

It’s a dream come true for the CSO to have acquired its own harp, and the wisp of that dream was first ignited by the late CSO Maestro John Van Liempt.

“Now we have several harp players and we’re talking about creating a harp ensemble here in Chilliwack.”

The other compelling reason for featuring the harp is their association with angels.

“People also connect angels with Christmas, so it’s fitting.”

The concert harp will be played throughout the evening in both the lobby and on the stage.

The Christmas concert is another opportunity to be delighted by the gorgeous piano stylings of Chilliwack’s own Debbie Fortnum.

“As Debbie plays the carol, I Saw Three Ships, she’ll be joined by Scottish dancers from the Aberdeen Dance Studio,” says DeWit.

The chorus will sing favourites like Away in a Manger, The Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, and also a new selection entitled O My Babe, written by Lori Pappajohn of Winter Harp.

Following the intermission, the orchestra and chorus will present Part One of Handel’s glorious Messiah.

The popular Part One of Messiah is sometimes known as the ‘Christmas’ portion, because in concert it is traditionally performed during the Advent, sometimes in singalong.

Celebrated soloists of the evening include soprano Michelle Koebke, Soprano; mezzo soprano Fabiana Katz, tenor Jonathan Michel, and bass Tony Funk who will sing Messiah.

The Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the Cultural Centre, Dec. 14, Tickets $25/$15 students, at the Cultural Centre, or online at or phone 604-391-SHOW(7469).


Just Posted

Local rock hound carves a 9-tonne granite grizzly bear

Chilliwack’s Paul McCarl’s about to complete a carving project 14 years in the making

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

GW Graham basketball star signs on with Trinity Western Spartans

Grizzly grad Jaya Bannerman is opting to stay close to home after graduating in June.

Metro gas prices hit 155.7 cents a litre and higher

Lower Mainland could see 1.60 cents by April

WATCH: Giant Flowers artwork going up at Evans roundabout in Chilliwack

The artwork installation Tuesday was causing very little traffic disruption for Chilliwack drivers

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

VSO to perform ‘Star Wars’ music while 1977 movie plays on big screen

Three shows for the classic at iconic Orpheum Theatre this summer

B.C. emergency alert system being tested Wednesday

Alarm tone and message will play on TV and radio

BC Conservatives pumped by poll results

Surge in popularity has BC party picturing elected representatives in Victoria

5 to start your day

A serious crash in Langley, Surrey man wanted in connection to vicious assault and more

Most Read