Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir

Musical Director, John Trepp

9 December 2000

St. Andrews-Wesley Church, Vancouver BC


By June Heywood

For the past five years, Second Tenor and member Peter Clark, has given me tickets to the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir’s Christmas concert. This year, I have the privilege of writing a formal review on the performance of their fine assemblage of voices.

“Christmas Reflections” is a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the VWMC audience favourites from over the past twenty years. Each year, the hundred and fifty or so men line up along the transepts of the church and break into a familiar song as they flow forward onto the stage. This year’s concert began with an annual favourite, “Sing We Now of Christmas”. Bill Carpenter, a rich-voiced tenor, sang the solo to “Ave Maria Stella”. As he did not step forward to sing, it was impossible to distinguish him from the scores of other men.

Twelve carols were sung before the Intermission. My favourite was the hauntingly slow reflective melody to “I Wonder as I Wander”. Gail Suderman, soloist, sang her beautiful counterpoint to the choir singing softly in the background. The slow pace of this carol is best suited to the voices of the VWMC. Many choir members are well past retirement age and are more suited to serious reflection than unbounded joy under the musical direction of John Trepp.

By contrast, the Gladstone Senior Chamber Choir, under the direction of Gail Suderman, brought a relaxed atmosphere with energy, lightness, vocal purity and smiles of genuine joy. These teens needed no music folders to hide behind. They sang a capella and with David Buchan’s light touch on the piano. “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” especially showcased this young choir’s melodic harmonies, crisp pronunciation and dramatic phrasing.

The Welsh Men sang four more carols ending with Ms Suderman joining them as soloist for “Beautiful Saviour”. After the well-loved and enthusiastic Audience Sing-Along, the Combined Choirs sang a lovely Norman Luboff arrangement of another of my slow favourites, “Still, Still, Still”. The men still had their music folders while the boys and girls joined their singing with their faces up.

As usual, dignitaries were acknowledged - including the Deputy British Consul and Mrs Flo Morrison who has travelled again from Scotland with her famous knitted dolls – door prizes were awarded, and red buried holly was sold. The audience filed out of the church with their expectations fulfilled. I had hoped the men would display more “Comfort” at their technically fine performance and more “Joy” and fun to match the spirit of the season. But, despite their well-lined faces, grey hair and glasses, at least they’re up there singing the audience’s favourite carols.