For Erick Lichte, it’s a story that captures the true essence of Christmas.
The year was 1914, and the First World War was raging across Europe. But on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, British and German soldiers not only laid down their arms; many gathered in the no man’s land between trenches to sing carols, share stories, and even exchange gifts.
“They defied the orders of their superiors so that their humanity was able to come out on that night,” says Mr. Lichte, director of the beloved Vancouver men’s choir, Chor Leoni. “And I think there is a certain power of Christmas, that transformative power, something that calls out to us to be our best selves, or to take stock of what we did the last year and renew ourselves.”
That was also the power that Mr. Lichte sought in creating the program for Chor Leoni’s Christmas concert, Star of Wonder, which ranges from Franz Biebl’s stunning Ave Maria to a Tori Amos cover of Star of Wonder to a boisterously fun Argentine work, as well as the Canadian premiere of a piece by Mr. Lichte about the Christmas Truce.
A beautifully solemn work by Terre Roche of the Roches will also provide an understated tribute to Chor Leoni founder Diane Loomer, who died just two weeks before Christmas last year. (Ms. Roche said that, when she saw the choir’s rendition on YouTube, she felt like she was hearing it for the first time.)
But while the song selection is refreshingly eclectic, traditionalists won’t be left out in the cold, as the concerts include readings and performances of holiday favourites including What Child Is This?, O Come, All Ye Faithful, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Silent Night by the 60-member choir, affectionately nicknamed “the lions.”
“We’re going to have 900 people all singing along with us to Christmas carols, and they’re songs that they know and songs that they love. And that sense of community, that warmth that comes from all of that, especially at this cold time of year, is just intoxicating,” says Mr. Lichte. “So hopefully we will find that Christmas spirit together.”
Chor Leoni’s Star of Wonder is at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church on Thursday and Friday, and at the West Vancouver United Church on Saturday.