One of Whistlers oldest social clubs is preparing to mark its 20 th anniversary, and the entire community is invited to participate.
The Whistler Singers was established in 1982, during a time when there wasnt much opportunity to raise ones voice in song. Churches were limited to the Skiers Chapel. Anyone who was in the area before its dismantling last year will remember the tiny A-frame building that used to stand beside Highway 99 in Creekside, a space not nearly large enough for a congregation and choir. But almost 100 people started coming together on their own accord to share their passion for music.
"People who liked to sing at Christmas, Easter, Remembrance Day, these were the people who were first joining the choir," recalls Candice Bennett-Bush, a member since 1984 and now part of the Whistler Singers executive board. "The age group was a little bit older then, and unfortunately a lot of them have retired and moved out of the valley. But there are a few people who are still part of it after a lot of years. Beth Pipe has been here since the beginning. Colleen Morrison and Ron McCreedy have been here for many years."
Molly Boyd was another constant face in the choir, taking on the role of director in 1984. Boyds son, former World Cup skier Rob Boyd, made for one of the most memorable moments for the Whistler Singers.
"One thing that Whistler Singers used to do for the World Cup races, and as far as I know were the only group to have ever done this in the world, is we learned the national anthems of the top seeded skiers," Bennett-Bush recalls. "For the first, second and third placements, we would sing the national anthem in the language of the winners. We had a repertoire of almost 20 national anthems in the native languages.
"But when we sang O Canada for Rob Boyd when he won (in 1989), it was amazing! The ceremony took place in Village Square. There used to be a covered walkway attached to the Blackcomb Lodge and they reinforced it so the choir could stand up there. The village was wall-to-wall people. We sang for Rob and his mom, Molly, directed it."
Whistler Singers has maintained its status as a non-auditioning and non-profit choir that offers training feedback and musical appreciation. Although there is a quality level that is maintained, enjoyment is top priority.
"We have a tremendous amount of fun," Bennett-Bush says. "People make permanent friendships when they come to the choir. When I first came to the valley, I didnt know a lot of permanent residents. Since I had a love for music I came to the choir and found people who had other similar interests. These are also the people you end up skiing with or hiking with. Theres so much more to it than the music."
Whistler Singers encourages the community to get involved now as they prepare for the Christmas season. For anyone who would like to check out the choir, they are having a Fireside Sing-along and Marshmallow Roast on Oct. 3, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Tyrol Lodge on Alta Lake Road (look for the balloons). For more information call 604-932-3022.