Daniel Lapp's Home For Christmas forges ahead, a 'warm blanket' for tough times

IN CONCERT

What: The Victoria Conservatory of Music Presents Daniel Lapp’s Home for Christmas Concert, featuring Danny Michel, the Emily Carr String Quartet and Maureen Washington, among others
Where: youtube.com/user/victoriaconservatory
When: Sunday, Dec. 20, 3 p.m.
Admission: $25 (suggested donation) through canadahelps.org/en/dn/52505

Seventeen years after Daniel Lapp created Home For Christmas, the name has new meaning — many tuning in to Sunday’s online performances will be sheltered at home during the Christmas season.

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Lapp, artistic director of Victoria’s Chwyl Family School of Contemporary Music, says he hopes the concert provides a much-needed sense of connection, perhaps triggering memories of “those times when we could be together.”

“It’s a way of carrying us through this particular season, which is going to be a tough one.”

Lapp has pre-taped performances by nearly 150 students and alumni in his many student ensembles for the Victoria Conservatory of Music event, which will be packaged together for Home For Christmas’s two-hour broadcast on YouTube at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Many of the projects Lapp is involved with, including the B.C. Fiddle Orchestra, Folkestra!, the Joy of Life Choir, Fiddleharmonic, Old-Time DanceBand, the Shiny H’ornaments, the Strings of Lights and the Swing’n Shepherds will be featured on the program.

Special guests will also be showcased, including Kitchener, Ontario favourite Danny Michel and Victoria acts Maureen Washington and the Emily Carr String Quartet.

The 150 performers were broken down into “small, COVID-friendly components” during the recording process, much of which was done at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. The process wasn’t as cumbersome as Lapp had imagined it would be. He had a dry run with the audio and video component during his Joy of Life event in October, which was assembled in much the same socially distanced way.

The difficulty for Lapp and his production team this time around was finding a way to put such a large number of performers on screen. “With all these layers, what you get live — all the strings, all the choirs, all the special guests — is split into quadrants for the screen. You’ll hear all the sounds, but the only way we could mesh it is for the audience to see it in four corners of the screen.”

Pre-assembling an event of this magnitude has its pros and cons, Lapp said. The surprise upside was that he could control the quality of each performance, something that can’t be done when performing in front of an audience. “When it’s live, you can’t take anything back. You get ready for your show, knowing that you’re going to do it once and that’s it. Anything that happens live, you let it go. You make a mistake, you let it go. But there is comfort also, and some creativity, in the recording of something like this. You get to do two takes and pick the best one.”

Lapp plans to watch the performance, once it’s up on the conservatory’s website, on Zoom with his one of his daughters. He expects others to do the same, given the current social-distancing mandate. To help lighten the mood, the lyrics to songs by Bruce Cockburn, Roy Forbes, Ron Hynes and Jane Siberry will be on the screen, so the audience can sing along with the performers.

It’s all a way to make the best of a bad situation. “We hope this event fills a void that people need. Home For Christmas is a tradition for all of us involved, and a lot of folks around town. It’ll be a bit of a warm blanket.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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