Roy & Rosemary concert adds sparkle to Christmas


Feeling like I needed an injection of Christmas spirit, I took in the Roy & Rosemary Christmas Spectacular on December 6th held at the beautiful St. Andrew's Wesley United Church downtown, and being new back to Vancouver, I had no idea what to except. I only recognized two names on the lineup, those  being Juno award-winning musician and actor, Jim Byrnes and reality TV star (Real Housewives of Vancouver), Mary Zilba.  I'd recently seen Zilba when she debuted her yoga line, Lotus Activa at Vancouver Fashion Week, so I was a bit confused as to her participation in this event. But back to our headliners... Just who are Roy & Rosemary? Well on top of being a very handsome looking couple, Roy Tan's a pianist with an amazing voice, and Rosemary Siemen's is a spunky violinist who plays on a 300 year old fiddle which she said was likely played before King Louis the 14th.  Roy & Rosemary call themselves the "Bogart and Bacall of Hollywood’s soundtrack virtuosos." They've performed at Carnegie Hall; Disney World, a Miss America gala, for Donald Trump at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach; at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics; as well as the Beijing Summer Olympics. They have appeared on Entertainment Tonight, Canada AM, Breakfast Television, and Urban Rush.

Eli Bennett performs Winter Wonderland... (Photo: Winter Wonderland)

With the concert's 'sparkle' theme, Rosemary dazzled in shimmering gowns throughout the night. One by Vancouver designer Jason Matlo, and two were styled by  The shows lighting, decorations, and video backdrops added to the holiday dreamy feeling. The dynamic duo have a great chemistry and their music (classical and pop) was indeed spectacular.  The Roy & Rosemary fusion performed with their own orchestra, with some songs accompanied by the  gospel choir Topline Vocal Collective,  and three fantastic ballet dancers who made the best use of the center aisle of a church and short stage space that I have ever seen.

It was a treat to hear Jim Byrnes perform. A first for me to see him live. He has a deep resonance in his voice that has made him the legendary blues singer Canada cherishes and loves. Listen to Byrnes sing, "River" during the show.

It wasn't until the ultra-beautiful Mary Zilba came out on stage in a dazzling silver gown and took a microphone did the thought finally come to my mind. "Mary Zilba sings ?!"  I had no idea... And sing she can! Zilba has a great voice and wonderful stage presence. I then learned she had performed with Rosemary at at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, and they screened the tape to prove it while they performed an excellent rendition of Ave Maria. The threesome have also recorded a Christmas CD together. Later in the concert Zilba sang "Do You Hear What I Hear."

Mary Zilba sings Ave Maria (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

A fun part of the night was when Roy & Rosemary took requests from the audience of Christmas carols and played them impromptu.   If all that wasn't enough, other artists who performed were Warren Dean Flandez, R & B singer from CBC's Cover Me Canada, and Eli Bennett, 35 time award winning saxophonist and 4-time Leo-Nominated film composer.  Both delivered lively performances and it was great to see such fine young talent. Listen to Eli Bennett perform Winter Wonderland.  The night was a perfect mix for starting off the holiday season. It had glowing Christmas lights, beautiful sounds, dance, and the benefactor for the evening as The Canadian Mental Health Association. Oh and even Santa and Mrs Claus made an appearance.

After the show all the cast interacted with the patrons in the foyer of the church where people were able to purchase their CDs.  Fashion designer - artist Malene Grotrian's paintings were also on display before and after the show.

My friend who accompanied me said she felt Vancouver was a hidden goldmine of  musical talents, and if this concert was any gauge of that, I'd have to say she's right. I look forward to exploring more of its music scene.

Check out the pre-concert rehearsal with Jim Byrnes, Roy & Rosemary HERE Roy & Rosemary on Facebook

Jim Byrnes with Maria Zalba

Warren Dean Flandez with Rosemary  (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Roy Chan away from the piano to sing "Believe" (Photo: Robbin Whachell)



(Thank you to Kitsilano Kitty's Closet and Helen Siwak)