Singers rehearse for the Nanaimo Sings! massed choir performance at Christ Community Church on Feb. 10. The show comes to the Port Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 25. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Sings! Festival coming to St. Paul’s Anglican Church and the Port Theatre

Vancouver Men’s Chorus conductor Willi Zwozdesky will lead the 300-member Nanaimo Massed Choir

Fourteen choirs from across Nanaimo will be coming together to sing as one at the 2018 Nanaimo Sings! Festival.

Subtitled “A Choral Extravaganza,” the three-day showcase of local vocal groups will include the V.I. China Touring Choir, Panache, V.I. Symphony Children’s Choir, Yellow Point Singers, A Cappella Plus, AVIVA, Phrase-ology, Gabriola Island Singers, VIU Jazz and College Choirs, Island Bel Canto Singers, Camerata Singers, Island Consort and Sinclair Singers.

The groups will sing separately at “mini-concerts” at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday Feb. 24 and all 300 singers will perform as the Nanaimo Massed Choir at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Longtime Vancouver Men’s Chorus conductor and artistic director Willi Zwozdesky is back to lead the giant ensemble. He participated in the last Nanaimo Sings! in 2015. The festival takes place every few years.

“I’m very happy to be back and working with them and becoming very familiar with a lot of these people now,” Zwozdesky said.

“I’ve been to Nanaimo quite a lot lately so I’m having a chance to really get to know some of them and to hang out and eat dinner and socialize, as well as obviously working pretty hard.”

The massed choir will perform a varied program decided by Zwozdesky and the organizing committee. Reflecting the repertoires of the choirs, it will include a Renaissance madrigal from the 1500, a Broadway ballad from the 1930s, a Celtic folk song and blessing and a piece of “contemporary art music.”

Zwozdesky, who has been recognized by the British Columbia Choral Federation for his decades of dedication choral music in the province, said Nanaimo Sings! is a “one-of-a-kind event” in B.C. that Nanaimo residents should cherish.

“Nanaimo is a model for the rest of the province of what they have done as a community … getting all their local choirs together,” he said.

“I just really want the audience in this town to be really proud of their singers and what they have done together and what they will be doing.

WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Sings! Festival 2018 begins with six “mini-concerts” at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday Feb. 24.

Friday: V.I China Touring Choir, Panache (5:30 to 6:30 p.m.); V.I. Symphony Children’s Choir, Yellow Point Singers, A Cappella Plus (7:30 to 8:45 p.m.)

Saturday: AVIVA, Phrase-ology (2 to 3 p.m.); Gabriola Island Singers, VIU Jazz and College Choirs (4 to 5 p.m.); Island Bel Canto Singers, Camerata Singers (7 to 8 p.m.); Island Consort, Sinclair Singers (8:30 to 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, Feb. 25: Gala Concert finale takes place at the Port Theatre at 7 p.m.

Festival Pass covering all mini-concerts are $15, $10 at the door for single concert admission, $20 for Gala Concert. All tickets available at the Port Theatre box office.

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