Each year music store Long & McQuade hosts an intriguing, under-the-radar event to introduce choir and band leaders to the new crop of octavos (a.k.a. sheet music).
Around 200 of these in-the-know people meet, look over the music and sing it together all day long to get a sense of which songs they're interested in pursuing.
Alison Hunter, who directs the Whistler Singers, is among them. "It's really kind of cool," she says. "The staff at Long & McQuade look at everything published in a year and narrow it down and give it to you. It's really kind of fun. We sing every piece through once from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m."
It was through that process last year that she discovered the song "The Tide Rises" and, this year, it's become part of the Whistler Singers' spring finale concert called It's About Time. It's set to take place on Friday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.
"The theme is about time ... It's really loosely interpreted," Hunter says, with a laugh. "It really helps if you have a theme. There's so much music out there in the world."
The group of around 30 singers—accompanied by pianist Carol Severson—will also perform "Time and Tide Wait for No Man," "Time in a Bottle" and "Now is the Month of Maying."
"We have two great pieces by the Canadian composer, Stephen Hatfield," Hunter adds. "He grew up on Vancouver Island. He's an amazing choral composer. (They're called) 'Two Minutes Before Sleep' and 'All Too Soon.' (The latter) is written for a choir celebration in Nova Scotia. It's about how, in the Maritimes, so many of the youth there, there's nothing left for them so they have to leave. It's sort of heartbreaking."
While the show will be competing with another big, community event that night—the opening of the art exhibit Don and Isobel—The Life, the Legend, the Laughter, the Leathers—Hunter is hopeful her choir will be able to show off their hard work to a solid audience.
"I'm really proud of them," she says. "They deserve to be applauded and celebrate what they've accomplished."
The group is made up of a wide range of ages and music experience—and that's part of its appeal as a community-based choir. "We have some people from the (early) days ... and we have new people and we have children whose parents used to sing in the choir and now they're adults. Sometimes we have people come for a session because they're visiting from another country," Hunter says.
The choir performs a handful of times throughout the year—at the Remembrance Day ceremony and for Christmas, in particular—and the spring concert is their final show until after a summer break.
"A lot of people travel," she says, explaining the break. "Last summer we did do some practices at the Whistler Museum; some came just because they wanted to sing ... For me, I'm planning next year now. I have piles of music sitting at the piano for Christmas, Remembrance Day and spring. Piles of music."
Catch the Whistler Singers at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Friday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation.