With the simple wave of his hands, Gordon Dawson grasps the attention of the room unifying voices and instruments with one swoop.
“I just wave my arms and they do all the work. My baton’s a magic wand,” said Dawson, the conductor of the Penticton Tune-Agers. “They do the work, I give them all the credit. It is sort of like an iceberg. I’m the part you see but they are the part that sinks the Titanic. They do the bulk of the work and I have a lot of respect for them. Like I said all I do is wave my arms.”
It isn’t by happen-chance Dawson has taken the podium for the Tune-Agers as their new conductor this year. He has plenty of experience on stage and in music, performing in musicals, featured in a few episodes of the television show Honey I Shrunk The Kids and performing in many bands. After living in Calgary for many years and then re-locating to Mackenzie where he was a morning host and announcer on radio, Dawson said he was surprised at what he discovered in Penticton.
“I was very pleased to find the diversity of music and arts talent in Penticton. This is a great little community.”
Music has always been in Dawson’s blood. It was 50 years ago he joined the RCAF professional orchestra. He was just 18 at the time and while travelling the world performing he became friends with Bob Ursel, Peter Spriggs and a few others.
“I was the youngest person there at 18 years old. These guys and I became great friends and when I retired I came to visit them in Penticton. We just loved this place and moved here. When other musician friends and some of the choir in the Tune-Agers found out I was a conductor they contacted me and the rest slid into place,” said Dawson.
Now, Dawson is back performing with his friends 50 years later as conductor as they prepare for a Christmas concert at the Shatford Centre on Wednesday at 7 p.m. featuring the Tune-Agers and an orchestra, which Ursel will be playing the trombone in.
“You’ll hear some familiar Christmas tunes and some that might not be so familiar,” said Dawson. “It is a good variety. We have some different arrangements that are very pretty of some standard tunes and others that I hadn’t heard before and are just spectacular.”
Gordon Ganderton will be singing solo on Pocketful of Miracles and Lorraine Uberig will sing solo on Tell Us ‘Bout A Baby. The evening will finish with a Christmas sing-along with the orchestra, choir and audience.
“The Shatford is an old building and the acoustics are very live and the sound is good so we are all really looking forward to performing on Wednesday,” said Dawson.
The concert takes place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the Shatford Centre. Proceeds will go towards the Shatford Learning Kitchen.