|Alexandra Babbel will be getting a little help from her friends when she performs at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Dec. 19.|
With the voice of an angel, Babbel will be joined by pianist Arnold Draper, guest musicians and ensembles to perform a concert filled with classical Christmas repertoire. Pieces on the program will include favourites such as Ave Maria, excerpts from Handel's Messiah and even some Tchaikowsky's Nutcracker Suite Ballet music.
The "friends" she is sharing the bill with are 40 of her students, both past and present, who will come together to sing.
"I'm so looking forward to this," she said of the concert, which takes place at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Dec. 19.
This will be the first reunion of the original Candesca group which Babbel formed a few years ago.
"Five of the nine girls left this year for university," she said, "with four of them going on to study music."
Babbel was not only a highly sought-after performer, but also the head of the voice department at Trinity University just outside Chicago before moving to Kelowna 20 years ago. "I've always loved teaching," she said, "and the goal is always to watch the students surpass the teacher."
While none have yet to reach the heights career-wise that Babbel has, there are several former Candesca members who are heading the right direction. What makes this concert so exciting for Babbel is that they'll reunite together again in song.
She's happy to talk about the success of the award-winning Candesca girls who have moved on.
"It's exciting! Carmen Harris is at University of Manitoba along with Chad Abrahamson (also one of Babbel's former students) majoring in opera; Jana Luksts got a full-ride scholarship to University of Toronto and Alexa Hildibrandt will be back in town in time to be the soloist not only at my concert, but with the Okanagan Symphony."
The young girls' group Candella is now waiting in the wings to fill the spot of the next generation of Candesca.
Thanks to Babbel's encouraging tutoring, she has 18 girls to choose from for when she forms the next Candesca at the end of this year.
"I decided to take a year off this year, after losing more than half of the girls to university," she said.
The younger girls will join Babbel dressed in gowns, gloves and bathed in candlelight.
Also joining Babbel on stage is a young male chorus she created and worked with, consisting of young men between the ages of 18 to 25.
"They'll all be wearing tuxes," she said, "and singing What Child Is This?"
Other musical guests include Jim Howie on trumpet and guitarist/singer-songwriter Andrew Smith.
"Jim will be playing the opening with me, doing Handel's Let the Bright Seraphim," said Babbel, adding, "It's about angels."
One of the two little breaks from the classical will be Andrew Smith playing tap guitar.
"It's where he puts it on his lap and plays it by tapping the strings," said Babbel.
Smith will accompany Candesca for one piece and Do You Hear What I Hear for a second. "It will add a bit of levity in the middle of all these classical pieces," she said.
Pianist Arnold Draper will accompany the majority of the pieces, including some of which he wrote specifically for Babbel to sing.
"One of the pieces Arnold wrote is a duet I sing with one of my students, contralto Patricia Howorko. She's got a beautiful, deep and rich voice."
The piece she's most looking forward to is a medley arranged by Draper featuring several different arrangements of Ave Maria.
In addition to the music, Babbel has chosen some artisans to display their work in the lobby, including designer Birgit Badke, potter Brian Wiebe and artist Brenda Valnicek.
The audience will get a chance to join in the fun at the end, since the final piece will be a sing along.
"Just fun," said Babbel. "It's supposed to be just a fun, light-hearted and family night."
What: A Classical Christmas with Alexandra Babbel and Friends
Where: Kelowna Community Theatre
When: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $35 adult, $30 seniors, $25 students 18 and under,
available at Kelowna Actors Studio box office, online at
vendini.com/alexandrababbel or 250-862-2867