Choir dreams of green Christmas

Sisters Sonja Heide, left, and Susan Aylard, who perform as Rough Pearl, join the Vernon Community Singers in A Celtic Christmas concert at Trinity United Church on Dec. 14 and 15. - Photo submitted
Sisters Sonja Heide, left, and Susan Aylard, who perform as Rough Pearl, join the Vernon Community Singers in A Celtic Christmas concert at Trinity United Church on Dec. 14 and 15.
— image credit: Photo submitted

It’ll be Christmas in Killarney, without the long journey to the Emerald Isle., when the Vernon Community Singers presents A Celtic Christmas at Trinity United Church next weekend.

“This program is full of wonderful Christmas music, with a few odds and ends thrown in for variety,” said Molly Boyd, longtime leader of the singers. “Adding to the program, we are delighted to have the sister duo, Rough Pearl.”

Formerly known as The Cats and the Fiddle, Rough Pearl consists of siblings Susan Aylard and Sonja Heide, who have been playing violin together ever since they were children.

The sisters began their studies in the Lower Mainland and then brought their talent to White Lake in the Shuswap, where they now live.

The women started the band The Cats and the Fiddle in 2002, and made some changes in 2011 to form Rough Pearl.

“This group still features twin fiddles and great vocal harmonies , but has moved to a more acoustic, intimate folk sound,” said Aylard.

A trip to Ireland with the Cats in the spring of 2010 really influenced the women’s sound.

Heide picked up the bodhran drum and continues to add to her penny whistle collection, while Aylard started melding her classical and fiddle styles into their arrangements.

The women say they are delighted to be a part of the Vernon Community Singers Christmas concert and have brought their favourite seasonal arrangements and a few of their favourite Irish tunes.

Greensleeves is originally an Irish tune, later having Christmas words added to it,” said Aylard, adding she has arranged it into a waltz, jig and a reel, with a penny whistle playing the melody over intricate, original fiddle tunes.

“The Christmas jig is a similar idea. This time, however, I have arranged a medley of four favourite Christmas carols.

“It is an added treat to perform with the choir and join a bigger group of musicians in a few compositions.”

The Vernon Community Singers continue their commitment to the community by providing scholarships and funding for many youth and music programs, as well as collecting warm, winter clothing for the homeless.

“And, of course, their spirit and enthusiasm is most evident in their love of singing,” said Boyd.

A Celtic Christmas takes the stage at Trinity United Church, 3300 Alexis Park Dr., Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 (children free) available from choir members or the Schubert Centre.


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