By Karen Lunde
When the calendar flips to December, it’s nigh impossible to walk into a store or turn on the TV without hearing endless refrains of Jingle Bell Rock and Frosty the Snowman. Love them or loathe them, holiday songs are ubiquitous this time of year.
But The Olympia Peace Choir’s concert at Huntamer Park will celebrate a seasonal festivity of another sort—the winter solstice. The solstice is a simple natural event that brings the northern hemisphere its shortest period of daylight and its longest night. After the solstice, our hours of daylight slowly and steadily lengthen, leading us into spring.
“Our concert at Huntamer park is a chance for people to gather and welcome the return of the light,” said Kerry Lynn Nichols, founding Artistic Director of The Olympia Peace Choir. “This may mean different things to different people. The songs we’ll sing are directed toward the theme of returning light.”
The performance will take place outdoors in the glow of Huntamer Park’s holiday light display and the Peace Choir’s own luminarias. (It’s a short set.) Although the choir seeks to kindle a flame of hope with songs that range from stirring and profound to magically ethereal, they realize that the glow of a moving performance won’t keep an audience warm forever.
The Solstice Concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at around 7 p.m., concluding with an audience sing-along of This Little Light of Mine. Huntamer Park doesn’t have audience seating, so those who need chairs are encouraged to bring their own.
This year, Olympia Peace Choir entered its tenth season. In 2010, the choir’s first rehearsal drew 40 eager singers—double the 20 or so Nichols and other founding members hoped to attract. In the decade since, the choir has grown to over 100 voices strong. In the past several years, the Peace Choir has been forced to cap its membership so as not to outgrow rehearsal and performance spaces.
Although the membership cap means that a few eager prospective members don’t get into the choir each year, it’s simply a matter of space. “Quality through inclusion” is its motto. There are no auditions to become a member and anyone, regardless of musical ability, is welcomed. Nichols says that the choir turns out stunning performances time after time by relying not on the strength of its individual members, but on the strengths of the group as a whole.
“When the Olympia peace choir was founded, our focus was to create a space for any person to come and generate positivity, joy, and hope by singing together weekly,” said Nichols. “It’s hard to believe that the choir has grown, matured, and inspired many for 10 years! It was a dream that became a reality—quality through inclusion, mastery of music with the seeds of inspiration.”
Spring to bring an anniversary celebration at the Minnaert Center—the Peace Festival
Readers may want to save this date on their calendar; on Saturday, March 14, 2020, The Olympia Peace Choir will celebrate the beauty of peacemaking through music with a joint concert at South Puget Sound Community College’s Minnaert Center. Choirs from around the South Puget Sound region—including SPSCC’s own choir and Vashon Island’s Free Range Folk Choir—will come together for an evening of music to celebrate peace, cultural diversity, social consciousness, and care for the environment.
“The Peace Festival is an opportunity to collaborate with like-minded singers and celebrate peace through music,” said Nichols. “It’s the culmination of many years of dedication from our members and support from the Olympia community. [Events like this] remind us that even though there are challenges in our world, there’s great hope when people come together and generate positive energy through singing.”
The Olympia Peace Choir Solstice Concert
Huntamer Park, 618 Woodland Square Loop SE, Lacey, WA 98503
6:30 p.m. Friday, December 13