Tis the season for a cornucopia of Nova Scotian Christmas concerts latest news-breaking news

HALIFAX, N.S. — Given the events of the past few years, we could all do with having our spirits lifted as 2022 draws to a close. Clearly, that feeling is in the air since the next month is rife with Christmas concerts designed to soothe souls and raise vo...

Tis the season for a cornucopia of Nova Scotian Christmas concerts latest news-breaking news

HALIFAX, N.S. — Given the events of the past few years, we could all do with having our spirits lifted as 2022 draws to a close. Clearly, that feeling is in the air since the next month is rife with Christmas concerts designed to soothe souls and raise vo...

Tis the season for a cornucopia of Nova Scotian Christmas concerts latest news-breaking news
26 Kasım 2022 - 07:45

Sondakika haberleri

HALIFAX, N.S. — Given the events of the past few years, we could all do with having our spirits lifted as 2022 draws to a close. Clearly, that feeling is in the air since the next month is rife with Christmas concerts designed to soothe souls and raise voices en masse in ways that haven’t been possible since December 2019.

Nova Scotia’s Christmas performance calendar is already unfolding, given recent Rebecca Cohn Auditorium holiday shows from Newfoundland’s Ennis Sisters and the mayor of Tinsel Town, Jimmy Rankin, with many more to come. These include annual traditions like the Barra MacNeils’ festive Maritime tour starting Dec. 14 at King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal and Tom Jackson bringing his food bank benefit Songs, Stories & Santa Causes to the Bella Rose Arts Centre on Dec. 13 to the blessed sounds of the Nova Scotia Mass Choir and guests at New Beginnings Ministries in Cherry Brook on Dec. 3 and Kyle Gillis & Becca Guilderson performing Kenny Rogers’ & Dolly Parton’s classic Once Upon a Christmas album at the Carleton on Dec. 4.

Songs for a Winter’s Night

One of the hottest tickets of this chilly concert season is the return of the Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas performance, taking over the stage at St. Andrew’s United Church from Thursday, Dec. 8 to Saturday, Dec. 10. Titled Songs for a Winter’s Night, after the Gordon Lightfoot selection of the same name — and part of the Don We Now Our Gay Apparel concert series — the evening shows were a quick sell-out, but there is also a special Saturday, Dec. 10 matinee at 3 p.m. with special guest Halifax Regional Arts West youth choirs Soundtrax and Jazz Voices.

The Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus presents Songs for a Winter’s Night at St. Andrew’s United Church on Dec. 8 to 10, with a special Dec. 10 matinee featuring the Soundtrax and Jazz Voices youth choirs. - Contributed
The Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus presents Songs for a Winter’s Night at St. Andrew’s United Church on Dec. 8 to 10, with a special Dec. 10 matinee featuring the Soundtrax and Jazz Voices youth choirs. - Contributed

Directed by Bryan Crocker, with accompaniment by Cynthia Davies, the HGMC show will feature a mix of familiar and rarely performed seasonal songs with the kind of flair and feeling the chorus has become known for. Yes, they’ll do Jingle Bells, but it will be with the rambunctious arrangement made famous by Barbra Streisand, along with songs originally sung by Dolly Parton and Sara Bareilles, and Winter Awakening by the late Nova Scotian songwriter Robbie Smith.

“Not all of the concert is specifically Christmas music, but the sentiment is there,” says choir member and president Tim Cross. “And who wouldn’t enjoy that sentiment, it’s very uplifting and, at moments, very contemplative. There are songs in the concert that will make you think about where we are in the world today and what’s happening; some of it really great, and some of it not so great.

“But it gives us all a chance to reflect, and there’s a lot of fun music in the concert as well. It gives people a chance to create a new holiday tradition and get out and hear some fun music, sing along with some carols, but also become more aware of the LGBTQ community in Halifax.”



Last year, the HGMC Christmas concerts were titled Get Me Through December, after the Natalie MacMaster/Alison Krauss song, whose title proved prophetic since the Omicron wave of COVID-19 shut down public events a few days after they took place.

Cross hopes the blend of upbeat and thoughtful pieces will hit all the right notes for audience members who want to celebrate while also reflecting on the year gone by, while also showcasing the varied talents of the chorus members with well-chosen arrangements from the men’s chorus repertoire.

“We’ve got a really great variety of singers with different backgrounds,” he says of the current membership. “Some people who for whom this will be their first choral concert ever, and then guys who have been singing since they can remember.

“The nice challenge of having some more contemporary or standard choral music is keeping everybody’s interest and helping to build community that way.”

Meaghan Smith’s gift of song

Local churches provide the perfect stage for Christmas concerts, like the Cathedral Church of All-Saints, which hosts the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ A Festival of Carols with the Aeolian Singers and guest reader, SaltWire Network’s own Katy Jean on Monday, Nov. 28, and A Rose in Winter: A Celebration of Christmas in Song & Story on Sunday, Dec. 11 with Paul Halley directing the Cathedral Choir with special guest, Juno Award-winning songwriter Old Man Leudecke.

Meanwhile, Nick Halley — Paul’s son — returns to the Cathedral of All Saints stage on Sunday, Dec. 18 to direct the Capella Regalis Men and Boys Choir’s A Chorister’s Christmas with the Maritime Brass Quintet and the senior Halley playing the church’s famous 1910 Casavant Freres pipe organ for the 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. performances.

Halifax songwriter Meaghan Smith makes a rare return to the concert stage to share some Christmas cheer and raise money for Feed Nova Scotia on Dec. 16 and 17 at St. Andrew’s United Church. - Contributed
Halifax songwriter Meaghan Smith makes a rare return to the concert stage to share some Christmas cheer and raise money for Feed Nova Scotia on Dec. 16 and 17 at St. Andrew’s United Church. - Contributed

But let us return to St. Andrew’s United Church for a rare appearance by Halifax singer-songwriter Meaghan Smith, who first graced our ears with original Christmas songs on the Feed Nova Scotia benefit CD A New Kind of Light with Jill Barber and Rose Cousins, before filling her own festive pop stocking It Snowed in 2011, and returning to the season with Cold This Christmas in 2020.

On Dec. 16 and 17, Smith will present The Holiday Show in support of Feed Nova Scotia, performing familiar carols and originals like Introvert at a Christmas Party and Breakable. The shows are Smith’s first performances in several years after she decided to stop touring due to anxiety issues and taking care of two small children, but she’s looking forward to two fun, family-friendly nights that help out the community during a time of great need.



There will also be a show of Smith’s miniature artwork, and a sale of bath bombs made by her and husband/guitarist Jason Mingo’s kids with proceeds going to the food bank, and some surprises in store to keep the event on the light and bright side.

“It’s gonna be really exciting that they’ll have their first experience of working and donating to something really meaningful,” says Smith of the kids’ contribution to the evening. “It’s gonna be a fantastic show, it really is.

“I’m going to keep it really light and campy and fun. I think Santa Claus is going to stop by with some prizes, and I’m baking a bunch of cookies to bring. ... It’s gonna be a good, old-timey, ridiculous I’m-gonna-ask-you-to-sing-along Christmas show.”

Also, mark your calendar for Lennie Gallant’s St. Andrew’s stop on Sunday, Dec. 11 with The Innkeeper’s Christmas tour that also comes to Truro, Pomquet, Wolfville and Sydney next month.

Reeny Smith launches her new Christmas EP Santa Is That You? with Smith Family Christmas shows in Chester, Dartmouth, Truro, Charlottetown and Sydney in December. - Meaghan Downey
Reeny Smith launches her new Christmas EP Santa Is That You? with Smith Family Christmas shows in Chester, Dartmouth, Truro, Charlottetown and Sydney in December. - Meaghan Downey

Reeny Smith songs span spiritual to Santa

It’s been a big year for North Preston multi-talent Reeny Smith, who just got off the road after a cross-country tour with Classified and was a double winner at this month’s Music Nova Scotia Awards in Cape Breton.

On top of those accomplishments, she’s also released her first collection of Christmas music, with the six-song EP Where You At, Santa? highlighting self-penned songs she’s featured at her Smith Family Christmas concerts like December and Mall Santa and fresh takes on chestnuts like Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night.



With the new release, it’s only natural she and her kin should return to the stage for one of the most inspiring events you can imagine this holiday season, with shows at the Chester Legion on Dec. 10, Monte’s Showbar in Dartmouth on Dec. 15, the Marigold Cultural Centre in Truro on Dec. 16, the Trailside Music Hall in Charlottetown on Dec. 20 and a Highland Arts Theatre concert in Sydney on Dec. 22.

“I think the family Christmas show was so successful because it’s something that’s super unique and different,” says Smith in a video call from Cleveland. “I talk about my family being musical all the time, so I guess initially, it was kind of our chance to be like, ‘Alright, here it is, here’s what we always talk about. But now it’s kind of, you know, become this thing, where it’s actually a really special moment, and people come back every year to see it.

“Now it’s become a new tradition for them, and so I think it’s important that I keep bringing them back out. People want to see more of them, and it’s fun for us that we get to do it as a family during Christmas time. We love the season so to be able to do this is another level for us, in terms of our Christmas celebration and traditions as well.”



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