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  • Dec23Thu

    A Celebratory Christmas With The Salvation Army

    Army holds first major concert in Toronto since December 2019. December 23, 2021
    Filed Under:
    Territorial News
    Kyle and Kathryn Higgins perform, supported by the staff band and songsters
    Kyle and Kathryn Higgins perform, supported by the staff band and songsters

    There was much anticipation in the air at Roy Thomson Hall as Salvationists and friends gathered for Christmas With The Salvation Army (CWTSA) on December 11—the first major concert for the Army in Toronto since December 2019. For those that were not able to attend in person, the concert was also livestreamed on the Salvationist YouTube channel and Facebook page, so viewers around the world could enjoy the festive sounds.

    Lt-Colonel John Murray, secretary for communications, welcomed the crowd on behalf of Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd, introduced the special guests and guided the proceedings as the attendees sang a number of Christmas carol favourites. Also featured was a video of The Salvation Army's work in Igloolik, Nunavut, to provide winter clothing for school children through a partnership with Baffinland Iron Mines and Joe Fresh.

    Artistic direction for CWTSA was provided by Major Len Ballantine, leader of the Canadian Staff Songsters (CSS) and the arranger or composer of six of the evening’s pieces. Along with performances by the CSS and Canadian Staff Band (CSB), the evening featured special guests Ian Sadler (organist) and Kathryn and Kyle Higgins (vocal and drama). Together, Kathryn, who is the arts ministries director for the U.S.A. Eastern Territory, and Kyle formed a lively duo, performing engaging vignettes about the Christmas story. Supported by the CSS and the CSB, they also performed O Holy Night and I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

    Along with supporting the featured guests, the staff songsters and band offered a number of their own solo contributions. With their singing masks on, the CSS sang One Cold Night, Sing Noel! and Healey Willan’s Hodie, Christus Natus Est. The CSB featured Andrew Wainwright’s A Christmas Fantasia and the full-band premiere of News of Great Joy by the band’s principal cornet, Marcus Venables.

    As part of the program, Colonel Evie Diaz, chief secretary, offered thanks to the Army’s supporters for their generosity and provided a spiritual reflection on the meaning of giving. “In this season, may we all give hope, give love, give kindness, give caring and help each other to work to build a better world,” she said.

    “All in all, this evening was an enjoyable and special return to the big live festival in Toronto,” said concert attendee Craig Lewis, territorial secretary for music and gospel arts.

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