The Victoria Arion Male Choir is coming to St. John’s Cobble Hill on Sunday, Feb. 3. (Submitted)

A spark goes out, a casting call, a visiting choir, and a breath of Spain: it’s a busy time

Valley folks mourn loss of Roger Sparkes: quirky, but always ready to support the arts

The recent death of Roger Sparkes, a former manager of the theatre at the Cowichan Community Centre, has caused an outpouring of memories and comments on Facebook from those who knew him.

According to friend Richard Hughes, Sparkes succumbed to injuries following a collision on the Trans Canada Highway.

Della Dee James posted “Not anywhere near recovering from the loss of my dear friend. Roger Sparkes was a true mentor and friend to me. He convinced (or conned) me into co-producing the Cowichan Fringe many years ago. He opened opportunities for myself and my children to engage in the artistic and theatrical world we are drawn to. My birthday wish is that my Mamma and some other precious souls are out there greeting him, laughing and enjoying the show.

A group of friends used to vacation in Melaque, Mexico with him, including Deb Maike, Tony Kant, Emily Morgan and others. Morgan posted that a gathering was being held there to celebrate him, “remembering all of Roger’s amazing endeavours to bring culture to the Valley. The conversation continues as we all try to cope with our loss.”

Sharon Jackson posted “Roger was quirky and wonderful,” and Mike Coleman used a similar phrase, saying, “One of the major assets to the Cowichan artistic community, indeed to the community at large, Roger was a quirky and delightful person. So very, very sad.”


Here’s a casting call for all you actors out there.

The Mercury Players are holding auditions on Sunday, Feb. 3 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. for the comedy, Beau Jest.

According to the Players, Beau Jest is “a hilarious, heartwarming story about Sarah Goldman, a beautiful young school teacher from Chicago, who is involved with Chris, a great guy with just one apparent flaw: he’s not Jewish.” There’s lots of fun as this tale of finding the perfect boyfriend unfolds.

Jim Cleough is directing this script by James Sherman, and if you want in, make your way to the Mercury Theatre at 331 Brae Rd. for one of these two auditions.


On Sunday, Feb. 3, St. John the Baptist Church at 3295 Cobble Hill Rd. will present the second concert in their new series Music from St. John’s.

The upcoming concert, A New Day, will be sung by the newly formed Victoria Arion Male Choir under the direction of Alan C. Whitmore. The concert is all about looking to the future while honouring the past and includes a wide variety of music ranging from folk songs and spirituals to classical and popular favourites by the likes of Aaron Copland, Eleanor Daley, Allister MacGillivray, Randall Thompson, and Ian Tyson.

VAMC is a new choral group with roots in the Arion Male Voice Choir and the Victoria Male Voice Choir, both with long histories in the Victoria region. You may even know men who have sung with them down the years.

During the summer of 2018, the choirs decided that they could better fulfill their mandate to promote male voice singing by becoming one group and inviting new singers to join them. The resulting choir is a resounding success, both musically and organizationally.

Their music director, Alan C. Whitmore, is parish musician at St. John’s, so this concert is a great fit.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 & under. Get them at Vines to Wines, Mill Bay, Volume One Bookstore, Duncan, the church office, and at the door.


Another of my favourite folks, Marion Priestley, has also sent along a short note about the next Chemainus Classical Concert, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10 starting at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church.

Called Echoes of Goya, it will feature guitarist William Feasley. Priestley says they’re excited about the show as he’s “the first classical guitarist to be awarded the Peabody Conservatory’s coveted Artist Diploma.”

Feasley will present a multi-media program featuring Spanish guitar music inspired, as the concert’s title suggests, by the paintings of Francisco Goya.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for under 18s if you get them at the door but there’s a nice reduction if you buy in advance. For more information about that, check out

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