With two weeks recovery time from her recent appearance with the Okanagan Symphony performing Mozart’s Requiem, opera singer Melina Moore is ready to take the stage again.
For the past 17 years, Moore hasn’t believed it’s Christmas until she has shared the spirit and the music of the holidays with her loyal Okanagan audiences.
That’s why she is back with her second annual Melina and Co. Christmas Show.
Held last year at Trinity United Church, this year the show is taking place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Saturday, Dec. 10.
Moore’s former holiday production, A Merry Moore Christmas, ran for almost two consecutive decades with tenor Paul Moore. When the two parted ways, Melina, without missing a beat, decided to carry on the tradition of celebrating Christmas in song, and not let down the many faithful fans who’d regularly attended each and every Merry Moore Christmas.
“I knew that people would be very sad to break with tradition, so I wanted to continue to bring all the beloved holiday music to the stage,” she said.
This year, Moore will be joined by virtuoso pianist Jim Leonard, jazz diva Judy Rose, master of ceremonies Brian Martin of SunFM, and the 50-plus singers of Valley Vocal Arts, the studio which Moore presides over as founder and artistic director.
Moore has also partnered with the North Okanagan Hospice Society to raise awareness and support for Hospice House.
“It is a cause very near and dear to my heart. Over the past two years, two of my beloved friends passed away at Hospice House,” she said. “I personally witnessed the care and compassion provided to them and their families, and I was deeply moved. At some time we must all face the end of life, and the hope is that it will be peaceful and free of pain, surrounded by a circle of support.”
With a cast and crew of close to 80 people, audiences can expect the usual Moore “madness.”
“I think of my Christmas show as an homage to music, magic, mistletoe and mayhem,” laughed Moore. “My singers begin their study for the production in October, and it’s full steam ahead.”
The Mini Divas, Valley Vocal Arts’ youngest chanteuses from ages five and up, will perform a medley of sentimental and cheeky carols with Moore. The next age group, Company Junior, will deliver a history lesson of how classic carols came to be, and Company, comprised of adult singers, will perform beloved classics in intricate harmonies. In addition, Moore will deliver her original renditions of favorites including Ave Maria, Gesu Bambino, O Holy Night, and a premiere composition, Pie Jesu by Leonard, who will accompany on piano.
“Working with Jim is a blessing. He has recently come to us from Ontario, and finding him in Vernon was akin to unearthing a rare gem. It’s an honour to perform with him, and an even greater one to premiere his beautiful composition,” said Moore.
No stranger to Vernon audiences, jazz singer Judy Rose of the zany Venus Headlights Trio (made up of Rose, Moore and Tanya Lipscomb) will join Moore for a medley of popular holiday tunes.
“Singing with Judy elevates me to another level of performing. From the first time we performed together, it was instant chemistry. We click. We make each other laugh, give each other permission to shine, and always have each others’ backs. And she’s a force to be reckoned with on stage!” said Moore.
The Regalo Ensemble, an octet made up of Valley Vocal Arts’ advanced students, will perform SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) arrangements of exquisite repertoire, including John Rutter’s Candlelight Carol, a haunting Celtic Carol and a tribute to “The Lesser Joys of Christmas.”
And then there’s Brian Martin, who ties the whole thing together and ensures that no one takes themselves too seriously, added Moore, hinting that a special guest appearance by Santa will leave audiences pondering the uncanny resemblance to Martin himself.
“My show is a celebration of family, friendship and unity. The grand finale will see the union of performers and audience members building a bridge of love. It’s a metaphor for the possibilities in this lifetime, when we take down our walls and reach out our hands to one another in hope and brotherhood.”
The Melina & Co, Christmas Show takes place at the Performing Arts Centre Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are at the Ticket Seller, 549-SHOW, ticketseller.ca, with proceeds in support of the North Okanagan Hospice Society.