Yuletide Cheer

Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Emmanuel United Church East, Peterborough


Featuring:  Venabrass | Syd Birrell, organ

Over the past 27 years, people from everywhere and every walk of life have started their celebration of the holiday season with the Peterborough Singers’ Yuletide Cheer concert. Is it the festive decorations, the warm glow of the performance space, or the glorious sounds of brass and organ? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the singing of the choir! Sacred and secular, familiar and new, contemplative or full of boisterous joy, the music and the combination of all of the above will make this a holiday concert you won’t want to miss.

It is a time for family.

It is a time for children.

It is a time for giving.

And it is a time for all of us to join together and believe that the world can be a better place.




Venabrass is a group of musicians all from the same family. The Venables family has been gifted, not only with having an excellent and flexible prefix as part of the family name but also with the privilege of having access to good musical training and a rich musical tradition to build on. Music runs in the family, so to speak, and every family member has shown a high degree of aptitude with all kinds of brass instruments, even from an early age. What better way to put that talent to use than to make music – not as individuals but as a group! The Venabrass love to play together at all kinds of events, including Christmas kettles in cities from Toronto to Vancouver, and even in Portland, Oregon. They have also had the honour of being included in two recent Christmas recording projects for the Salvation Army in the Ontario Central East Division. Needless to say, the Salvation Army is a fundamental part of the Venabrass members’ lives, and the majority of their work is for the cause of the SA. The Venabrass have been active members of the North York Temple Corps for many years, and are members of the band, songsters, singing company, and YP band. They are also involved in many other SA activities, including a Monday-night ball hockey ministry. They always make an effort to serve God first and foremost through their music and to strive towards the highest degree of excellence in that service.



Artistic Director Syd BirrellSydney Birrell, F.R.C.O, G.R.S.M., A.R.C.M. is the founder and conductor of the Peterborough Singers, one of Canada’s leading community choirs, and organist at Lakefield College School. Syd was born in Sarnia, Ontario, and began his career as a young chorister at St. George’s Anglican Church, Montreal. He studied at the Royal School of Church Music in London, England, and the Royal College of Music, winning a Sawyer Prize in Organ performance. Returning to Canada in 1975, he took the post of organist and choirmaster at St. John’s Anglican Church in Peterborough until 1984, and then held the post of Director of Music at Murray St. Baptist Church until 2008. Between 2015 and 2019, he was organist and music director at All Saints’ Anglican Church. Syd performs regularly and has given organ recitals across Canada, and in Mexico and the USA. Outside of music, Syd is married to Pamela, also a musician, and has three children. Syd is well known in Canadian paediatric cancer research circles for his work in raising awareness and funds to find a cure for neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that claimed their son James, through the James Birrell Fund for Neuroblastoma Research at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. Syd is the author of Ya Can’t Let Cancer Ruin Your Day.