It’s a tricky balance to strike, the point between tradition and innovation that makes annual community rites engaging and interesting – particularly for the younger set – but also familiar for those that have seen them performed for decade upon decade.
Held on the now-traditional Wednesday night in the holiday-decorated NSS gym, Nakusp Rotary Carol Sing, in its 27th year this winter, is a seasonal standby, a bastion of old-time carols and student band performance.
The crush of cars coating the walls of the road passing through the school zone was the dead giveaway that tonight something was happening at the gym. And sure enough, a decorated tree topped with a red-velvet angel greeted attendees at the door to the gym.
Decorators did a great job putting up festive markers of the season through the school gym: trees, bows, garlands and lights signified the rite of communal singing, with two blue and gold Rotary banners standing at the front as well.
Although this is definitely a Christmas holiday event, there were some radical breakaway numbers performed by the all-female Formal Logic. The musical consortium of high school students rocked John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Van Halen’s “Jump,” injecting some new blood into the night and getting younger folks in the back to their feet, jumping at the chance to take part.
The new and different was counterbalanced by traditional hymns and choirs. The “munchkins,” handily led by Danielle Savage, represented the very youthful end of the spectrum, and there was hardly a choral head that wasn’t as white as the driven snow, representing the other end of the age rainbow.
Patrick MacGibbon’s contribution to the night looked like one step in the direction of continuity: students are getting into music, learning to play and sing the songs that sound like celebration to them, and seeing that those songs can be non-traditional and still get played at a community Christmas concert (heck, “Jump” was a hit before these kids were even born, but it’s still revolutionary in terms of being included in a traditional songbook).
Surprises like more contemporary music are a delight in an evening already filled with fantastic old-time favourites. I don’t know a single Van Halen lyric, but the novelty was fantastic, and I was happy to also be able to sing “Jingle Bells” on the same night.