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Family group delights crowd at United Church concert

They may look like four of a kind, but each of the van Waardhuizen sisters added a unique touch to their concert in Stettler

They may look like four of a kind, but each of the van Waardhuizen sisters added a unique touch to their concert in Stettler late last month.

Corina, Joni, Helen and Janette, plus their father, Pete — who perform under the name Pete and the Re-Petes — played a mixture of classical and sacred music to a large crowd at Stettler United Church on Friday, Nov. 21.

The family group, which hails from Fort Macleod, was well-received by the audience, which numbered close to 130.

“I hope Fort Macleod doesn’t mind, but I think we’re going to keep you,” board member Sue Peterson, who helped bring the concert to Stettler, told the five performers.

The concert was intended partly as a fundraiser to cover the costs of fixing the Stettler church’s organ, built in 1945 by the Casavant Frérès of Saint- Hyacinthe, Que., and repaired over the past couple of years.

During the show, Pete alternated between the church organ and a portable model he brought along, an electronic instrument powered by a computer, programmed with recordings of the 7,500-pipe main organ of the Laurenskerk in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

His daughters, ranging in age from 14 to 24, each performed on their featured instruments: Corina on the keyboard, Joni on the trumpet, Helen on the violin and Janette on the pan flute.

Pete introduced each of the songs, sometimes with an anecdote, as in the case of the hymn “It is Well with My Soul,” which the performers built up with a powerful crescendo.

The hymn was written after its author, Horatio Spafford, endured the loss of his son from scarlet fever, the loss of his business in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and the death of his four daughters at sea in the sinking of the SS Ville du Havre in 1873.

The show featured several other hymns, including “Count Your Blessings,” “Now Thank We All Our God” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

The other selections largely came from the classical realm, including pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, Henry Purcell, Felix Mendelssohn and George Frideric Handel.

An organ concerto by Johann Gottfried Walther was played as a duet with Pete on the digital organ and Corina on the pipe organ, “just because we can” in Pete’s words.

Pete and Corina later sat side-by-side at the digital organ for another duet with “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” by American bandleader John Philip Sousa. This was followed by “O Canada,” to which audience members sang along at Pete’s invitation.

The encore, the Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor’s “Symphony for Organ No. 5,” earned the group the second of two standing ovations from the crowd. Pete could be seen wiping his brow with a handkerchief at its conclusion.

Pete said he and his four daughters — part of a family of seven — have been performing together for just over three years and will continue “as long as we can.” Refreshments were served following the concert.

For more information on the group, check out Pete and the Re-Petes on Facebook, or view their performances on their YouTube channel.


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