(From left to right) Ronnie Manery, Dolores Schulz and Evelyn Shewchuk are members of the Tune-Agers, a 55 plus choral and orchestra ensemble, rehearsing before their spring concert April 14 and 15 at the Shatford Centre. Tara Bowie/Black Press

Penticton Tune-Agers singing into spring

The Tune-Agers a 55 plus choral and orchestra ensemble is performing at the Shatford Centre

The Tune-Agers, the South Okanagan’s 55-plus choral and orchestra ensemble, is bringing to life a song composed by their director — who is about their half their age.

Nick Kelly, director of the group that’s been in existence for almost 50 years, took words from a Bliss Carman poem, arranging it so it could be performed by both the choral and orchestra sides of the group.

Kelly, an accomplished composer and performer working with several different local groups, said he was inspired by an old poem by Carman, titled In the Okanagan. Carman, born in Fredericton, N.B., spent most of his life in the U.S. but travelled Canada extensively. He is classed as one of the Confederation Poets, a group that included his cousin Charles G.D. Roberts, Archibald Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott. Of the group, Carman achieved the widest recognition, and in his later years was acclaimed as Canada’s poet laureate.

“He travelled through Canada and wrote poems about all these different areas that moved him in some way, so I read this poem. I started singing this little folk-like melody to myself that seemed to go with the words and then I basically just arranged that and harmonized it for full choir and wrote the orchestra parts last,” Kelly said.

The song will debut at the Tune-Agers’ spring concerts on April 14 at 3 p.m. and April 15 at 2 p.m. at the Shatford Centre.

“The orchestra has the hardest job in that song. Composers always paint in metaphors, but they are sort of painting this canvas of sound, this Okanagan landscape that is sort of setting the backdrop for the words that the choir is singing, so you know you’ll hear these sort of bird-like figures in the flutes and these just sort of wide open chords in the strings that to me signify the space of the valley, the openness, maybe the way it echoes even.”

In addition to this song, attendees to the spring concert will hear a variety of music that is sure to get their toes tapping.

The group does a variety of classic rock, classic pop, folk songs and even a skit about bravely heading into their golden years.

Nora David, president of the Tune-Agers, said the goal of the group is to have fun. The group, which started in the 1970s, has members from all over the South Okanagan and Similkameen including Oliver, Keremeos, Summerland, Naramata and Penticton.

They rehearse once a week from September through to spring with a break at Christmas. They hold a Christmas and spring concert at the Shatford Centre each year.

“We welcome anyone 55 years or older that wants to play music. There are people here in the choir and orchestra in their 80s. It’s the getting together and being together that makes it so much fun and it keeps your brain moving too,” she said.

Tickets are $15 and available at the door or in advance of the spring concert from Shatford Centre members, at the Shatford Centre, Dragons Den in Penticton and Beanery in Summerland.

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