Bits 'n' Pieces: Singing sisters hit stage with Pink Martini

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The singing Berg sisters are onstage again with Pink Martini. They will hit the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland on Tuesday night.

But it’s not their first time singing with the band: Two years ago Lauren Berg, 19, sang with the “little orchestra” formed in 1994 by Portland pianist Thomas Lauderdale. She sings on their “Joy to the World” Christmas CD.

In 2010, Lauren’s sister, Jordan, 17, a junior at Skyview High School, sang on Pink Martini’s CD, “Saori Yuki,” a fundraiser for the victims of the Japanese tsunami.

Jordan said she was excited and honored when she learned she would sing with the group again. Her sister, now a student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, was invited back for this year’s performance.

Both girls began the process by auditioning to be part of the 250-voice Pacific Youth Choir in Portland. They followed up by auditioning for the small chamber choir.

Since they started singing with Pink Martini, the young women have been busy. They both sang at the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland Nov. 25 and joined Pink Martini in Seattle with the Seattle Symphony on Dec. 10. After Tuesday’s performance with Pink Martini, they will be back at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall singing with the Oregon Symphony for its “Comfort and Joy” concert Thursday. And looking ahead to 2012, the girls will again step onstage with Pink Martini in a Seattle concert.

The girls’ parents are Marc and Diane Berg.

Tommy Rhodes, a Skyview junior, and Emily Swearer, a senior at King’s Way, are new to the Pacific Youth Choir this year and will also sing with Lauderdale’s orchestra.

— Mary Ricks

Project provides nativity scenes to shelter residents

Elinor Peace Bailey has been on a Christmas quest.

She and friends think every family staying at Open House Ministries deserves a nativity scene.

How to do it?

Well, scour thrift shops and make it work.

“I know how much my nativities mean to me and I wanted them to have something meaningful they could keep. They have nothing to decorate their living space at the shelter at Christmastime,” Bailey, 71, said.

She was recently named to the humanitarian committee at her church, the Cascade Park Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Soon she enlisted others to help her scour thrift stores to find at least 30 nativities, enough for every family. Another committee member, Robin Garner, will get her grandchildren to help box, wrap and deliver the nativity sets before Christmas.

This is a new adventure for Bailey, who for 35 years has been a dollmaker and author. She sold her first doll for $50. Her cloth dolls are meant for adults, not children.

Bailey has a flair for art, and well, hair.

Twenty years ago, she didn’t see any reason for kids to have all the fun with dyeing their hair. So she has sported bright pink or red hair ever since.

She sold crafts in the Bay area before she made her first doll. That first doll became a pattern and she soon was teaching others how to make dolls. Bailey says her dolls make women feel like girls again.

She has taught dollmaking and has traveled with her work around the U.S. and to foreign countries, including Australia, Japan and Switzerland.

Find her doll patterns, books and blog: http://www.epbdolls.com.

— Mary Ricks

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Ruth Zschomler, 360-735-4530, or email ruth.zschomler@columbian.com.