A fundraising concert for the Christian Life Orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania, ‘See Amid the Winter’s Snow’, is set for several dates across Central Alberta.
Featuring the Central Alberta Home-School Choir, the Rosedale Valley Strings (under the direction of Naomi Delafield) and singer Debbie Zepick, the first performance runs Dec. 12th at the New Life Fellowship Church in Red Deer, starting at 7 p.m.
Additional performances will be held at the Clive Baptist Church on Dec. 13th at 7 p.m.
Zepick, a gifted artist in her own right, enjoys the aspect of bringing these groups together for the concert, which will be rich in various musical genres and ‘textures’.
The concerts have been running for several years as a fundraiser for various projects at the orphanage, which was founded in 2005 by Patrick and Beatrice Mwafute.
As the ministry’s web site reads, “They were surrounded by children who were forced to live on the streets; many of them orphaned or forced to leave their homes for other reasons.
“These children lacked the basic needs to enable them to live full, healthy lives. They faced insurmountable obstacles such as drug and alcohol addictions and had no one to turn to. It was in response to these circumstances that Patrick and Beatrice opened up their home to these children.”
Zepick and several members of the Central Alberta Home-School Choir visited the Christian Life Orphanage Centre earlier this year, and the mission has brought a deeper level of fulfillment to everyone involved with staging the See Amid the Winter’s Snow fundraiser, she said. “They learned an awful lot about international development.”
Friendships were formed, which is also a key part of connecting with a ministry that is so far away. “We had an amazing time.”
The partnership with the orphanage has also grown deeper over the years as well, as funds raised here have supported such projects as six acres of land, the construction of a new building and the purchase of a new van for the ministry.
“It’s been amazing what the music has done.”
Zepick, also a piano/voice teacher, home school teacher, worship leader and recording artist, has recorded music with an unmistakable feeling of joy and that often reflects a gentle, Celtic sound. Zepick has a wonderful way of telling stories in her songs, reflected in tunes like Gray Mittens from her own lovely Christmas CD, also titled See Amid the Winter’s Snow, released several years ago.
That song is a real-life look at her grandmother’s experiences during the Depression years when she was single-handedly raising children and trying to provide a happy Christmas. Of course, times were tight so gifts were meaningful – simple pairs of mittens she knit while staying up late at night.
Christmas Rags is about a lonely trucker who picks up a dog on his Christmas Eve journey. The pair drives by brightly-lit homes filled with family members celebrating.
But at least he’s not alone. Gray Mittens and Christmas Rags will likely be some of what she will be performing during this year’s ‘See Amid the Winter’s Snow’.
“We really run the gamut at this show,” she said, pointing out there is choral music, orchestral music and a little bit of Celtic-influenced music as well. “And as we’ve embarked on working with the orphanage, there has gotten to be a little bit more of an African influence in the music that we do.
“So it’s becoming more and more eclectic all of the time.”
Meanwhile, she’s thrilled to be working with such talented young people, noting that the Central Alberta Home-School Choir numbers about 100. “Last year, we reached an all-time high of about 120 so I started a junior choir as well.”
Being so busy on a number of other fronts has kept her from recording newer projects of her own, but she’s happy to be guiding her choir and other students she works with along (she also directs theatre productions).
“I get energy from working with groups of young people,” she said. “I love to work with choirs and see how much we can develop – I love the creative challenge of that. And with dramas, I love to take kids who are terrified to make a peep and watch them take on different characters, gaining confidence and poise. It’s all very energizing to me.
“I also get to work with the best kids in the world because these kids are respectful, polite and they want to learn.”
As for the coming performances, a free will offering will be taken. For more information, call 403-783-3446 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.