MP Richard Cannings (right) delivered a special congratulatory message to conductor Shayla Sipila (left) and the Our Redemeer Lutheran Choir recently before they left on their trip to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall. Kristi Patton/Western News Staff

Video: South Okanagan choir ready for Carnegie Hall debut

17-member choir invited to perform Joseph Martin and Mark Hayes The Winter Rose at Carnegie Hall

The power of YouTube is taking a Penticton choir from their small stage at the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church to the big-time in New York.

The 17-member choir, selected by invitation, will perform on Nov. 26 at the premier of composers/conductors Joseph Martin and Mark Hayes The Winter Rose at Carnegie Hall.

Singing at such a venue wasn’t even on choir member Darryl Jones’ radar — in fact, stepping out of the pews to sing was even a huge accomplishment for him.

“When I was a kid they told me don’t sing, but I got over that,” said Jones with a laugh. “Singing in the pews here, I have been going to this church for about 32 years, people were saying ‘Why aren’t you singing in the choir?’ So, I did.”

Still, singing amongst friends in the comfortable confines of his church is a little bit different than stretching his vocal limits at one of the most prestigious venues in the world for 11 songs in front of an orchestra and around 2,800 people.

Related: Penticton choir headed to the Big Apple

“Not even close to my wildest dreams could have I imagined I would be going to Carnegie Hall. It wasn’t even on my bucket list,” he said. “For some of these people in the choir, it was. For me, it is beyond my wildest dream.”

Now he is just days away from standing with 26 other choirs in the national landmark. The Our Redeemer Lutheran Church choir is one of two Canadian choirs participating with the other ensembles coming from across the U.S. They have been practicing since they were contacted in April, after the directors of the production found a video of the choir singing one of Martin’s compositions on YouTube.

While a lot of choirs audition to get in, the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church choir were invited. Quite unbelievable for Shayla Sipila, director of the local choir, she said it was almost too good to be true. She was in disbelief until she looked more into and realized the event was very real. The group then went straight into fundraising mode.

“Everybody who speaks to me about it is absolutely stunned, but very proud of us. This small community of Penticton has a choir that is good enough to go and perform at Carnegie Hall. The reaction from the community has been amazing, so much support,” said Sipila.

The choir will rehearse on Saturday, and at Carnegie Hall with the orchestra on Monday before their performance that evening.

“I just can’t wait. This venue was built just for music so the acoustics should be awesome. I’m confident in my choir and they are very ready,” said Sipila.

The choir had special visitor MP Richard Cannings for one of their final rehearsals recently. He provided them with an official congratulations notice.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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