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Music on the path to acceptance

The outpouring of support that the family and friends of Valerie Ferguson received in the days following her death last spring has been so abundant that they are now seeking to express their appreciation by staging a concert in her honour.

On Feb. 7 at Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira, friends and family of the murdered woman will get together to celebrate her life and to give back to the greater community for its unrelenting support through the tragic days following her death.

Perry Domzella is organizing a concert at Elmira’s Woodside Bible Fellowship in memory of Valerie Ferguson, with proceeds going to support programs combating family violence.
Perry Domzella is organizing a concert at Elmira’s Woodside Bible Fellowship in memory of Valerie Ferguson, with proceeds going to support programs combating family violence.

The body of Ferguson, a 44-year-old mother of two, was found in her Elmira home Apr. 3, 2008. Her husband, Kenneth Michael Ferguson, 41, was subsequently charged with first-degree murder in the strangulation death.

“The reason why we’re doing this concert is, while we acknowledge that this has been an absolutely tragic and horrific event, we are so aware of how God and the community have blessed the people who were so affected by this. It’s a chance to give back to the community for that,” said Cairine Domzella, a close friend of Valerie Ferguson’s.

“Understanding the tragedy we can see the blessings that have come to us because of it, and we are so overwhelmed that we would like to have a chance to give something back.”

The concert, which will feature both sacred as well as secular songs, will be performed by a number of musicians from Woodside, Ferguson’s former church, and will feature a variety of music.

“I want to get … a lot of songs in the set about grace and hope and mercy; also a lot of tunes that are about pain and grief and loss and rage and fear and so on,” said Cairine’s husband, Perry Domzella, who’s organizing the concert and will perform on guitar.

“I want the set to move through a sort of parallel process to what the friends of Valerie have gone through. If we were just going out to sing worship songs, it wouldn’t have the impact as if we acknowledged the horror of the situation through other music first,” he said.

“He’s really tried to put together something that acknowledges the grief and the rage that we feel, but brings us to more beautiful things in the end,” said Cairine, noting that the concert is also meant to celebrate  and reflect the type of person Ferguson was.

Committed to her family, her faith, and her community, Ferguson is remembered by many people as a kindhearted, selfless, upbeat and positive influence.
“One thing that was so core to her … was how she loved God and loved her neighbour, she really did exemplify that in her life,” said Cairine.
“Val was very generous with her time and her energy.”

The two spent a lot of time together, watching their children swim at the Elmira pool.

“Her laugh, she had a great laugh … and her way with children was really special and remarkable. She always got down with the kids. She never stood before a child and spoke to them, she would get right down on the floor and meet them at eye level and she was very creative in the way she dealt with children.

“She was always thanking you, she would thank you for things – like you would ask her to do something for you and then she would thank you,” said Cairine with a chuckle.

To help offer up a well-rounded performance, Perry, who plays acoustic, electric, classical, steel-string and bass guitars, will perform with a band that will feature up to nine musicians.

Assembled especially for this concert, the band includes Lorretta Fischer on keyboards, Don Pond on saxophone, Rob Gingrich on bass, Dave Weber on drums and Perry Domzella on guitar. They’ll be joined by vocalists Rob Smyth, Carol McKinley and Bert Menkveld, and singer/guitarist Russ Shouldice.

Perry is confident that the final concert will have something for everyone.

“We’re trying to offer something to everybody: you know that old joke about the weather in Kansas? If you don’t like it, wait five minutes because it’s going to change. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do with this set,” he quipped.

On a Cold Winter’s Night: A Concert in Memory of Valerie Ferguson takes place at Woodside Bible Fellowship 200 Barnswallow Dr.; doors open at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, and the concert is scheduled to begin at 7:30.

Donations will be accepted on behalf of Woolwich Community Services’ Family Violence Prevention program and Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

For more details, please visit: onacoldwintersnight.blogspot.com.

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