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Art Beat: Sacred music that’s evergreen – choral evensong for St. Patrick’s Day

Also, Pender Harbour Music Society welcomes vocalist and guitarist Matthew Byrne, March 24.
Legendary Newfoundland singer and storyteller will perform at the Pender Harbour School of Music this month.

This St. Patrick’s Day, a special prayer service with organ and choral music will take place at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Sechelt. 

Steeped in tradition, choral evensong draws from millennia-old patterns of worship, using a centuries-old adaptation into English, incorporating music written from Reformation times up to the present day. 

Choral evensong has existed on the Coast since 2017 through the efforts of Vespersong, a choir founded by local organist and choir director David Poon for the purpose of providing music for evening prayer services. The only choir on the Sunshine Coast dedicated exclusively to singing liturgical sacred music while not being affiliated with a specific church, Vespersong partners with the three Anglican churches on the lower Coast to make these services available to the public. 

The March 17 edition at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Sechelt will feature works by Renaissance composers John Sheppard and Thomas Tomkins, early 20th-century composer Edward Bairstow, and present-day composer Tim Pratt. 

The event takes place on Sunday, March 17 at 5 p.m. at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church. 

Have pie, will travel 

Two touring clowns who last year launched their North American tour of a comedic tour de force in Gibsons will be coming first circle on Monday, March 19. 

James and Jamesy — properly known as Alastair Knowles and Langdale resident Aaron Malkin — earned high-calorie plaudits from the Toronto Star, which labelled their show Easy as Pie a “must see.” 

In the performance, James and Jamesy hilariously grapple with the existential implications of a pie in the face. In inimitable British style, they agonize. They argue. They consider the creamy, empirical weight of their hypothetical actions. 

Rich in wordplay, comic physicality, and cleverly crafted interactive elements, Easy as Pie is a blend of charming silliness and red-nosed epistemology. 

James and Jamesy will perform at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons on March 19 at 7 p.m. A variety of ticket options are available and can be purchased via 

Rock music in Pender Harbour 

The Pender Harbour Music Society is set to welcome one of the most distinctive voices from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Vocalist and guitarist Matthew Byrne recently recorded his fourth studio album in Sheffield (in the U.K.), and is set to release it this fall. Each of his previous two recordings took the prize for Traditional Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. 

Byrne uses traditional songs as a channel for storytelling. “I’m not a folklorist or ethnomusicologist, at least not officially,” he said. “And I’m not a purist. I’ve poured over the nuances of the pub standards as much as the obscure murder balladry. What attracts me to a traditional song is the right combination of melody and language, which have always fascinated me.” 

Musical riches from “The Rock”, as performed live by Byrne, will be in the spotlight at the Pender Harbour School of Music on March 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets ($30) are available online at 

Last call for student writers 

The deadline for student writers to submit to the annual Coastal Voices anthology is this Friday, March 15. 

School District 46 and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts are gearing up to publish the 14th edition of the adjudicated anthology of student writing. 

Coastal Voices is published annually by Celebration of Authors, Books and Community (CABC), a joint initiative of the Sunshine Coast School District and the Festival of the Written Arts that was created to promote literacy and to encourage youth to express themselves through both the written and spoken word. 

Each year a call goes out to teachers and schools from up and down the Sunshine Coast for poems, stories, personal narratives and short essays. Submissions are then sent to a team of volunteer adjudicators from the community to choose a selection of the best writing for publication. 

In 2023, the adjudicators received over 800 submissions, which were then whittled down to almost 240 pieces published in two anthologies. One featured work by elementary students, the other by secondary students. 

All students enrolled in the Sunshine Coast School District—from Kindergarten to Grade 12—are invited to submit up to three pieces of poetry, short stories, personal narratives or essays. The maximum length is 500 words per submission. For more information about Coastal Voices, students can talk to their teachers, or email John Lussier at [email protected]

Bachfest a well-tempered treat 

Cello sensations Erin Payne, Esmé Woolliams and Cael Read earned ovations at two sold-out Bachfest concerts produced by David and Sarah Poon on March 8 and 9 at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church. The trio’s interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s third suite for solo cello (each teenager played two movements) presented unique and emotion-charged interpretations.  

The Coast Messiah Choir and Orchestra performed the electrifying three movements of the composer’s Mass in B minor before concluding with a tranquil rendition of the chorale Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. “If you like what you’re hearing and you want to hear the rest of the Mass in B Minor,” said conductor (and cellist) Sarah Poon, “just tell us so.”