Their harmonious voices have delighted many in Christmas seasons past but there’s a little known fact connected with Th’YARC Strolling Carolers.
Through their performances the singers have raised over four thousand dollars in the last four years for local non-profit groups. These include the Tabitha Centre, food bank, fuel bank and Th’YARC itself.
The group was established to bring theatre to the people, with the original plan of singing Broadway songs in the community.
Musical director Allan Thompson says Alex Gigeroff suggested the group sing carols as the holidays were approaching. Th’YARC supplied 18th century costumes and the following year the singers inherited costumes that were used in a Christmas play.
“The tuxes fit perfectly, the ladies’ costumes were absolutely beautiful,” said Thompson.
“The group started getting bigger and bigger and finally we had to come up with a cut off as we could only afford so many costumes.”
“Music is a wonderful tool for spreading the news,” he said.
There were 18 singers at the start of the season last year. At least a dozen auditioned for the group.
Thompson says that shows the visibility and popularity of the carolers. The challenge is to balance the group musically.
“Where we really need voices is bass and tenor,” he said.
Thompson first became interested in singing in high school in 1964 and was involved in chorale music from that point on. His background includes teaching school (Phys. Ed.) in Hebron in 1968 and
28 years in the military.
“I was involved with music in different organizations wherever I happened to be posted at the time, including barbershop chorus and quartet.
“I have a pretty good idea what it takes to put a group together as far as blending and the sound. It takes a lot of work and sometimes you might have some great voices but the sound is not there. It might be too much of one, not enough of the other,” he said.
He used to be a member of a barbershop quartet and sang on the Yarmouth/Maine ferry in the past.
The carolers rehearse at Th’YARC every Saturday at 10 a.m. for two hours, starting the last of September. Bookings ran from Nov. 2 to Dec. 21 last year.
Thompson says there was some places the carolers would have loved to have sung at, but that time just didn’t permit.
On their last day of performing last year they sang at the mall, Sobeys and then Saint Ambrose.
“They love to sing at Saint Ambrose. It’s such a beautiful place. The acoustics are absolutely wonderful. They all have their ‘A game’ on when they sing there. Perfect harmony and perfect pitch,” he said.
General manager Sandy Fevens says Th’YARC is grateful for the fundraising that the Strolling Carolers do, and for their promotion of the theatre.
“It’s a busy time of the year for everybody so we’re really appreciative of the ones who do give their time,” she said.
The carolers and Th’YARC are now deciding which charity to fundraise for in 2015.