Singer Elise Boulanger and pianist Sarah Wood perform at the White Room on Dec. 23. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Singer Elise Boulanger and pianist Sarah Wood perform at the White Room on Dec. 23. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Christmas Eve’s eve concert in Nanaimo to evoke stories and memories

Singer Elise Boulanger and pianist Sarah Wood perform at the White Room

When pianist Sarah Wood plays Silent Night, she’s reminded of the time she was stuck in Gatwick Airport outside London on Christmas Day in 1986. She said the airport was full of young, homesick Europeans when suddenly they all began singing Silent Night, each in their own language.

“It was just the most amazing real-life experience of people just looking really tenderly at each other from across the hall and singing,” Wood said. “So many memories. When you sing a song like that it just takes you back and brings you … right here, right now with the people you’re with.”

It’s that sense of boundless fellowship that Wood and singer Elise Boulanger hope to evoke when the local duo present The Night B4 The Night B4: An Evening of Christmas Music and Stories at the White Room on Dec. 23. This is an event Boulanger has held twice in the past, but this is the first time she’s being accompanied by Wood, a collaborator for the past 10 years.

Boulanger said when it comes to the holidays, Christmas is unmatched in the music department.

“Halloween doesn’t really have music, Valentine’s Day doesn’t, New Year’s Eve has Auld Lang Syne but Christmas is the main musical holiday in our Anglo-Saxon Canadian culture,” she said.

The concert will draw from that deep pool of material, featuring traditional and classical Christmas songs and medleys as well as what Boulanger describes as a couple more “jumpy, bumpity” tunes. Wood said it’s a “dream come true” to add Boulanger’s voice to her arrangements.

“The thing about Elise is she’s got this incredible range,” she said. “She can switch gears from being the most saucy little Santa Baby girl you ever heard or saw to singing Ave Maria with the most piercing, pure, true, pitch-perfect, spine-tingling – I mean I got to see her sing a cappella last week and I was riveted.”

Boulanger said she’s been researching some old Christmas carols and will be telling the stories behind those songs during the show. Overall, she said she’s aiming to provide “a cozy, warm feeling of the holidays and a space and a place where people can come together and meet other people and have a better sense of community and just feel the holiday spirit.”

Wood said it’s a unifying spirit able to cross many divides.

“I love Christmas, I’m a Christian, but it’s the one time of year where I feel totally, really connected with everybody and I’m allowed to hug everybody,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … Elise Boulanger and Sarah Wood present The Night B4 The Night B4: An Evening of Christmas Music and Stories at the White Room, 4 Church St., on Monday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 available online.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Millstone River in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Regional district looks at value of Nanaimo’s natural assets

Report focused on the Millstone River could inform future decisions on corporate asset management

Protesters gather along the Pearson Bridge on Terminal Avenue in downtown Nanaimo last month as part of an event called Worth More Standing. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: B.C. hasn’t managed forests properly

Protesters opposing logging in Fairy Creek speak for many British Columbians, say letter writers

Nanaimo singer Victoria Vaughn recently released an EP with local producer Austin Penner. (Photo courtesy Taylor Murray)
Nanaimo singer and recent VIU grad releases EP about becoming an adult

Victoria Vaughn’s ‘Growing Pains’ recorded with local producer Austin Penner

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Air Canada, Harbour Air flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Rebates through Clean B.C.’s Better Homes New Construction program are available, says the City of Nanaimo. (Vancouver Island University photo)
Energy-efficient home builds in Nanaimo eligible for up to $15K in rebates

All building permits issued on, or after, April 1, 2020 eligible, says City of Nanaimo

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Noel Brown, Snuneymuxw First Nation carver, observes the house post he carved, which now is situated in front of the Kw’umut Lelum centre on Centre Street in Nanaimo. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
House post representative of work of Kw’umut Lelum in Nanaimo

Snuneymuxw First Nation artist Noel Brown’s carved red cedar house post unveiled Friday, April 16

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read