From holiday classic tunes to a decorated Royal Theatre to Victoria’s largest indoor snowball fight, Ken Lavigne’s Home for Christmas concert next Tuesday will be filled with tradition.
Which is not to say audience members won’t be pleasantly surprised with what they hear when the popular tenor returns to the Royal Theatre stage for the first time since 2014.
“The idea is to give people the familiar with a new flavour to it,” he says of the material. “We’ve taken a lot of these familiar classics, whether from the Bing Crosby era or Christmas hymns, and tried to envision the orchestrations with new eyes. It’ll be in a format that is exciting and new and fresh; the goal from the outset is have people standing and cheering, to be excited for this music.”
Lavigne, one of the original Canadian Tenors, has been staging holiday concerts in his hometown for 10 years or so. The Dec. 5 show is aptly named, as it winds up a busy fall for the entertainer, who is coming off the Great Canadian Songbook tour in Ontario to celebrate Canada 150.
Being close to his Cowichan Valley home in time for the holiday season is becoming more important for him. The ages of his children – they’re now 13, 12 and eight – was among the aspects of his life that prompted a serious rethinking of his career last year, he says. That led to structuring his 2017 schedule, with shorter tours that allow him to spend more time back on the Island.
“I get to be dad at different times of the year,” he says, adding of his kids, “they say I’m the biggest kid of them all.” Eldest daughters Grace and Lucy will join him on stage for a number during the concert and will no doubt help when the snowballs fly.
Lavigne characterizes his Christmas spirit and love for tradition as kind of a combination between Homer Simpson and Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold. That said, his loyal fans are aware that he isn’t one to rigidly stick to a script on show nights.
“They know me, I throw a curveball at them sometimes,” he says, referring to some offbeat arrangements of well-known songs. “It’s just about having fun and being entertaining and trying to be my very best on the day.”
Local singer Stephanie Greaves is a guest performer for the show and Pierre Simard conducts an all-star orchestra of Island musicians backing Lavigne.
Having performed on stages around the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Lavigne has worked with producer David Foster and performed for His Royal Highness Prince Charles in recent years. In spring 2018 Lavigne will tour China as part of a cross-cultural musical exchange.
But Victoria always holds a special place in his heart.
“The opportunity to perform in front of a hometown crowd; there’s a lot of love and a lot of forgiveness even if sometimes things go sideways. There’s a genuine warmth with the audiences, it’s my hometown.”
Ken Lavigne music up for grabs at concert
Victoria’s favourite tenor produced two albums last year, although neither was on an official release. “They were more for fans and family, but I’m really proud of them,” he says of Closer Than Ever and The Ken Lavigne Christmas Radio Road Show.
Both will be available, along with his other CDs, at the Dec. 5 show at the Royal Theatre.