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Claresholm Community Singers to perform at Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

Claresholm Community Singers

Claresholm Community Singers

Claresholm Community Singers will celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary with a performance in Fort Macleod.
“This is My Home, O Canada” is the theme of the concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 17 at the Empress Theatre.
Each piece of music chosen for the concert was composed or arranged by a Canadian.
“Every piece of music is there for a particular purpose,” founding director John Vandenbeld said. “It has been chosen very carefully.”
A section of remembrance in the concert dedicated to the Canadian war effort features the songs I Dreamed of Rain, In Remembrance, And the Poppies Grow and The Poppy.
The Poppy was composed by Vandenbeld’s wife Sharon, who had three uncles killed in World War Two.
“She wrote the song in memory of the uncles she never met,” Vandenbeld said.
The first half of the concert also features O Canada, God Save the Queen, Something to Sing About and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.
Following intermission, the 40-member choir returns to the Empress stage to sing This Land is Your Land, Hymn to Freedom, Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds, Farewell to Nova Scotia, Rita McNeill’s Working Man, Island Bound and This Is My Home.
All things Canadian have been near and dear to Vandenbeld’s heart since he was a youth in Holland.
“My home town was libertated by the Canadian Army — the Canadian people,” Vandenbeld said of events during World War Two. “If it wasn’t for the Canadian soliders, I might not be around. Things weren’t good in Europe.”
After graduating in 1967 from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Vandenbeld enjoyed a career as a professional musician, primarily as a church organist.
Vandenbeld was the organist at St. Mary’s Cathedral and Central United Church in Calgary, started the Dutch Canadian Choir in 1972, and directed the Calgary Choral Society.
It was his sideline of selling organs while living in Calgary that led Vandenbeld to Claresholm.
One of his customers asked Vandenbeld to start a choir at Claresholm.
Vandenbeld agreed, with the proviso that a balanced choir could be put together in the small town.
That was in 1994 and the Claresholm Community Singers has been going strong ever since.
“I’m so glad I did,” Vandenbeld said of forming the choir in Claresholm, where he now lives. ” I really love this bunch. It’s a great bunch of people.”
Vandenbeld is excited to bring the choir to Fort Macleod for a concert in connection with Canada’s 150th year.
“I’ve always wanted to perform at the Empress Theatre,” said Vandenbeld, who now lives at Claresholm but frequents the Fort Macleod theatre. “I love that theatre. What a history — it’s unbelievable.”
The Claresholm Community Singers hope to fill the Empress Theatre, with thoughts of performing there every year.
“I want that place filled,” Vandenbeld said with a laugh. “I want people to be part of it, to feel that experience.”
Tickets are available at www.macleodempress.com, the office on Main Street and at the door.

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