The world comes together for Christmas


Russian princesses Maria (Natasha Prohoroff) and Anastasia (Sydney Cochrane) take a magical journey back to their beloved homeland in Once Upon A December, part of Christmas Around the World taking place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday, Dec. 13.— Image Credit: Photo Submitted

For many, Christmas is a season of celebration and tradition.

People throughout the world embrace this time of the year with their own unique ways of ushering in the holidays.

Christmas carols may vary from country to country, foods that we place on our tables may not all be turkey, and the giving and receiving of gifts may be different, but a common thread of family and merry making is the same in each region of the earth.

“We live in a world with so many amazing cultures, it is fun to discover and explore the nations, especially at this time of year,” said local music theatre and vocal studio owner/instructor Charity Van Gameren.

That’s why Van Gameren Studios, which operates out of the Vernon Community Music School, is presenting a journey through 12 different countries, featuring festive music and dance relating to each culture at this time of year.

Written by UBC Okanagan creative writing student Lyndsay Thornton, Christmas Around the World takes place Friday, Dec. 13 at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

“Christmas Around the World has been intriguing to me for many years,” said Van Gameren. “I love to take a look into the way others celebrate and the traditions that are important to other countries.”

Van Gameren, along with her students, will give audiences a glimpse into the musical world of Christmas through song while students of Cherise McInnis at Silhouette Dance Studio will weave a story through dance.

“It is a beautiful collaboration of two art forms,” said Van Gameren, who is also working alongside Kelowna pianist Neta Petkau as accompanist and musical arranger of several of the songs.

The show will follow Santa and his elves on their magic sleigh to tell the story of each country as they travel through Russia, China, Israel, the Congo, Austria, France, England, Ireland, the North Pole, Mexico, and the U.S., ending their journey in Canada.

Adding an element of rhythmic excitement to the performance will be the six-piece drumming group, Jubulani, which will accompany the African spiritual, Noel.

“It is simply fantastic,” said Van Gameren.

The show also features a haunting rendition of O Come Emmanuel, fused together with a violin solo by VCMS student and Our Kids Have Talent finalist Eli Garlick.

Garlick will also perform along with Van Gameren’s version of a Celtic women’s choir in a rousing rendition of Ding Dong Merrily on High while in Ireland.

“The finale is a surprise but will have the audience enraptured with more than 125 voices singing together in harmony,” she said.

Limited tickets are available for the Dec. 13 performance of Christmas around the World, which starts at 7 p.m. Contact the Ticket Seller at 250-549-7469 or

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