Arioso looks to the bright side after a dozen years of charity shows

Local vocal trio Arioso — Pamela Cochet, Eunice Mooney and Linda Jensen (foreground from left) — are holding their 10th concert in support of the Prince Albert chapter of Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers. (File photo)

Bea Fisher is used to seeing the number 12.

As a member of the Prince Albert chapter of Grandmothers to Grandmother, she bakes dozens of cookies each year to sell at fundraisers.

Those cookies, baked by her and other grandmothers, sell by the hundreds.

This year, though, it’s not just the cookies that come in a set of 12.

Sunday, Arioso and Friends will present their 12th annual concert to benefit the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. While Linda Jensen is one of the members of Arioso working to organize the music, Fisher is working with the army of grandmothers to organize the baking of cookies that are, mostly, sold by the dozen.

Last year, they sold 600 dozen cookies, raising thousands for their cause.

“grandmothers to grandmothers works to provide support, not to be maternalizing or micromanaging, but to give support to grandmothers in Africa that are raising their grandchildren who were orphaned by aids,” Fisher said.

“Right now we’re trying to stand in solidarity with the grandmothers in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe who have been so badly hit by storms. The best part of Grandmothers to Grandmothers is we don’t dictate what happens to the money. When it gets to Africa, the Stephen Lewis Foundation can get the money to the grassroots organizations and bypass all of the corruption. We know it gets into the hands of grandmothers to do what they assess they need.”

The grandmothers and Arioso have been involved since the start. Both the organization and the concert have now been around in Prince Albert for 12 years. As the organization has grown, so has the concert. This year’s show features a baker’s dozen of musicians performing in four trios and the backup band.

In addition to the Arioso trio of Jensen, Leisa Rossum and Carol Link the event’s poster bills Jack Jensen and John Hareuther, Relan Meeks and Kristen Beukert and Christine and Eunice Mooney.

The band is made up of Dean and Maureen Dynna, Dennis Adams and Craig Williams.

Having Eunice and Christine perform is extra special for Arioso.

“Eunice, who is one of the founding members and moved to Calgary a few years ago, is coming back to do a set with us,” Linda Jensen said.

“She and her daughter Christine are our guest performers. Christine was very involved with musical theatre in P.A. when she was here.”

Christine Mooney went to school for performing arts in Victoria and now works as a freelance choreographer.

“They (Eunice and Christine) are going to perform as a duo,” Jensen said, “which was something that was a dream of ours when Eunice was here.”

Arioso is also welcoming a pair of guest youth artists, Relan Meeks and Kristen Bueckert.

“Over time, we started to have guest performers and since we’ve done that we have tried to highlight youth,” Jensen said.

As in past years, this year’s show has a theme.

“There has been so much going on in the world that people can get really tainted and negative, and with the long winter, I think people are a little grouchy,” Jensen said.

As our program was evolving, it seemed like we were gravitating towards upbeat music. That’s our theme, and our opening number o ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Fisher is hoping that positive message spreads to those supporting the event, which has proven quite beneficial over the past 12 years, raising between $6,000 and $8,000 annually.

“We owe a big debt of gratitude to Arioso who decided at the beginning they wanted to find a charity that suited their principles and their ideas and that they wanted to do a public concert and donate the funds to a group,” she said.

“Of course, we jumped at the chance. Now we’ve been working together for 12 years and it’s quite wonderful. We are thrilled to work with Arioso as much as we can., we always have a wonderful time at the concert. I have never been disappointed.”

Arioso and Friends are set to perform Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Plaza 88. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and available at Canadian Tire. For information, call 764-9569.