Special to The Morning Star
Until I moved to the Okanagan three years ago, I was not familiar with the annual B.C. festival called Chorfest, but was delighted to hear that it would be held in Vernon this year.
It is truly a dream event for the Streicker-Megyesi family to celebrate a lifelong involvement in choral music and one more opportunity for an Okanagan family reunion.
As mother and grandmother, I am thrilled that all four of my adult children (from California, Vernon, Whitehorse and Salmon Arm) and two of my grandchildren (from Vancouver and Vernon) are participating in Chorfest.
Ever since my daughter, Kelly, and her family moved here in 1990, our family has been involved on the edges of the wonderful music culture of the Okanagan.
As a family we have since spent some 18 Christmases in Vernon and have been entertained and awed by the amazing 120-150 voice choir of the Vernon Community Singers – first under Paul Hunter, then Molly Boyd, and now Terry Logan. We usually follow them to Silver Star for their Christmas performance there and often have our traditional family carol night for Okanagan Landing friends and neighbours. We sometimes gather again in the spring to celebrate another music adventure.
My children did not have a lot of professional training. They just loved to sing. In their formative years, we lived in five different cities so spent a great deal of time travelling by car to the new city, or visiting with friends in the old one. They sang away the miles.
They sang in school concerts and shows, in junior choir and on camping and bus trips. Kelly and John sang in Mame and Mark in HMS Pinafore. Jamie and John were cantors in their junior choir.
A Christmas concert was an annual community event in my home province of Saskatchewan and I wanted my children to experience one. So the year before I returned to teaching in Toronto, we invited two families, with whom we exchanged Sunday dinners, to join us in presenting a family Christmas concert to a seniors’ residence and to a convent I still see that as a very special event for our family in feeling the joy of participation, accomplishment and community that I so believe in.
My grandchildren, Becky and Jay Megyesi, grew up in Vernon and had the advantage of professional training in singing, dancing and playing a musical instrument at an early age. As each was old enough to read, they joined Elizabeth Scott in her children’s choir and stayed with her through the Vernon Youth Ensemble and Quartettoo.
Becky sang in Ottawa with the youth ensemble and both Jay and Becky sang in the World’s Children Choir in Vancouver in 2001. This, of course, led to other opportunities in musical theatre. They both sang in the Dr. Seuss musical Seussical and Cats (Jay played Rum Tum Tugger and our family was there to celebrate a wonderful show).
Jay still lives and works in Vernon and sings with Paul Moore’s Kokanee Singers. Kelly sings with the Vernon Community Singers and with Kim van Wensem at the Vernon Community Music School. She also sings with a women’s chorus, Scarborough Faire, which continues the tradition of singing at senior centres. Mark sings in a mixed choir in Monte Sereno, Calif.
Our reunion this year not only includes the chance to experience Chorfest but to welcome my two new great grandsons. It is my fervent hope that their future holds a chance to sing. If they lived in the Okanagan, they would have that chance.