The Northland Barbershop Chorus of Sault Ste. Marie serenaded last-minute holiday shoppers near the food court at the Station Mall on Saturday afternoon.
This event has been going on annually as long as many of the chorus members have been involved – no one knows the exact number of years, just that it’s been well over 20 – and is one of the ways they collect donations for the Salvation Army.
Northland Barbershop Chorus President Folgo DellaVedova told SaultOnline singing in the mall for Christmas is not only an opportunity to practice, but to show the public what their four-part harmony sounds like. The Station Mall, he said, is the perfect location as it’s usually busy at this time of year.
“We don’t have to coax people to come out, which is really nice” he joked. “But the people here are so responsive to music, especially around this time of year. It certainly uplifts the spirit of the season – whether people are Christian or any denomination. It’s just the music brings the best out of people. We love it, and I know that they’re very receptive to our kind of music.”
Bob Shami, the Northland Barbershop Chorus Music Director, has been involved with the choir and in this event since 1981.
He told SaultOnline that this event is a way to thank the Salvation Army for hosting their Chorus rehearsals every Monday night. The chorus mans the kettle at the mall throughout the day of this event each year, and Shami said the Salvation Army says it’s the “single best kettle they receive throughout the entire Christmas season.”
“This gives us air to breathe,” he said, talking about how it feels to be involved in this event. “We heard a saying once that ‘the good Lord does not count the hours you spend singing against the time that you’re allowed on Earth,’ so we sing as often as we can.”
Shami said he thinks continuing this tradition each year is important because Christmas isn’t always a joyful time of year for people, and this gives them a chance to lift people’s spirits.
“The response we get from the public is always a delightful surprise,” he said. “This is the busiest time of year for people, it’s a high-stress time of year for a lot of people and it’s a sad time of year for a lot of people. And it’s a time, I think, the need to reach out to people is more than ever.”
Shami said the Chorus gets comments from people all the time both in writing and in person, telling them how much their performance means to (the public), and this is part of why they continue to do so after all this time.
“With that kind of feedback, how can we not do this?” he said.