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Canada and U.S. choirs combine in Estevan for 51st Christmas concert

The Southeast Chorus and the Northwest Chorus teamed up for their annual celebration of Christmas music on the weekend.
The Southeast and Northwest Choirs of Estevan and Crosby, N.D., were at Trinity Lutheran Church on Saturday to the delight of the audience.

ESTEVAN - The Southeast Chorus, which boasts members from this corner of Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Chorus, which is comprised of members from northwest North Dakota, came together at Trinity Lutheran Church in Estevan on Saturday for their 51st performance and celebration of Christmas music.

Shauna Meek of Estevan, who co-directs the choirs alongside Harlan Johnson from N.D., said they had a total of 66 Canadian and American singers planning on partaking in the performance, which is higher than usual. They had a few new members joining and some younger performers as well. She noted that their youngest participants are still in elementary school and their oldest member is around 95 years old.

"It's a huge gap, but it works. Everybody can sing," Meek said.

Due to changes in the border crossing schedule, it's been more difficult for the two choirs to practise together, but they still were able to meet a couple of times ahead of the concert.

"We used to always travel down to rehearse in Crosby on Tuesday nights. But the border time didn't change for the U.S. side. So, we had to make it work. So I and the one accompanist would drive down through Portal to get there on time for the rehearsal. And then we were able to drive back up through the Estevan-Noonan port, because it's open later," Meek said. "It's been difficult, but we've made it work because it's a worthwhile group."

She also noted that it was a bit tricky when it came to preparing their Christmas program this year. Since they couldn't have as many joint rehearsals as they used to, the choir wasn't balanced during practices.

"It's so nice that we're finally together because everything's coming into place. The bulk of our male singers actually are in the Crosby choir, the Northwest Choir. And we don't have a lot of male singers in our [Southeast Chorus] group … So, once we're all together, it makes such a huge difference. Everybody's happy with that," Meek said.

"Even though we still have a few restrictions, with the border, it's still really nice to get together. These people are not just singers, they're really good friends, too."

The program for the 51st annual Christmas concert was chosen in the summer, and the Southeast and Northwest choirs started rehearsing once a week in Estevan and once a week in Crosby in mid-September. 

This year's program offered traditional Christmas music, as well as some secular and five new pieces that were produced and published this summer. Meek noted that they have a great collection of music from years past stored in Crosby to choose from every year.

"This group has been together for 51 years now, so there's lots of great music to pick from," Meek said.

A second performance took place at Concordia Lutheran Church in Crosby on Dec. 2.