Welcoming Christmas to Chewelah

Start your holiday celebration Sunday, December 4 as the joyful sounds of brass, strings, and choral voices welcome Christmas to Chewelah.

Spokane Choral Artists, Broken Whistle Celtic band, and Chewelah Brass Quintet will perform a 2:00 p.m. concert sponsored by Chewelah Arts Guild at Abundant Life Fellowship Church, Second and Clay.

The brass group’s players are five men—two pastors and three educators—who’ve continued to play the instruments they began to learn in elementary school: Rev. John Southwick and Father Jeff Lewis, trumpets; Joe Trudeau, Jenkins High School band director, French horn; Dave Johnstone, JHS math teacher, tuba; and Byron Kerner, trombone, who taught music and math at Summit Valley School and has conducted three musicals at Woodlands Theater in Kettle Falls.

“Continuing to play a brass instrument in your adult life is a challenge,” says Trudeau, who founded the group four years ago. “Practicing once a week in this small group allows us to keep our technique up and have fun.”

Fun also pervades the music of Broken Whistle, a Celtic band whose members play a variety of instruments: fiddles, guitars, Irish whistle and clarinet, percussion and bass. The young Spokane group has become a favorite at Northwest folk and Celtic festivals with their rich vocal harmonies and joyful spirit.

“We draw on several styles, from traditional Irish music to jazz, classical, and even R&B, but the music always stays true to the Celtic style of fiery, musical grace,” says David McGuire, lead guitarist and co-founder of the band.

His band mates are guitarist Chris Reichert, the other co-founder; violinist Kelcey Hanson, former concertmaster of Spokane Youth Symphony; percussionist Justus Morgan; and Ella Wilkinson, Celtic fiddle and upright bass. Everybody in the group contributes to Broken Whistle’s rich vocal harmonies.

Spokane Choral Artists, known as the Inland Northwest’s premier chamber vocal ensemble, will sing traditional and classical Christmas compositions during the concert’s second half. The 12-voice mini-choir is led by Max Mendez, choral director at North Idaho College in Couer d’Alene.

The a capella group he’ll be conducting December 4 is composed of former college voice majors, choir conductors, and music teachers—the types of singers who make beautiful vocal both effortless-sounding and moving.

But choral music, he says, is for everyone. “I love it because it brings people from all walks of life together. It teaches us our history and the diversity of our culture. It’s a great unifier.”

Tickets for the two-hour concert, only $10, are at two Chewelah locations: Valley Drug Co. and Akers United Drug; and two in Colville: House of Music and Happy’s Hallmark Gift Shop. Seating is limited, so buying in advance is recommended. For information, call 509-499-4376.


Members of the Chewelah Brass Quintet (front row) Reverend John Southwick and Father Jeff Lewis, trumpets; (Back row) Joe Trudeau, French horn; Byron Kerner, trombone; and Dave Johnston, tuba.

Posted in