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Christmas carol with your wine purchase?

The provincial liquor store on Nicola Avenue is a pretty festive place — there's a decorated tree on top of a pyramid of beer cases, decorations at the cash registers and Christmas carols playing softly in the background.

But if you're lucky enough to drop by for your dinner party wine or a Scotch stocking stuffer when Adam Turpin is working, you're in for a true festivus treat.

That's because Turpin, a classically trained bass baritone singer, likes to burst into song when the mood strikes, much to the delight of weary shoppers waiting in the checkout line.

Margot Vekic and her husband were at the store last week when Turpin started singing, and continued to do so the whole time he rang in their order.

"We clapped and applauded him and told him we thought his talents were wasted at the liquor store," Vekic said. "We were kind of shocked."

On Tuesday, Cam Willey was taken aback when Turpin (whose name tag actually says "Clark Griswold," for the Chevy Chase character in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) offered up a deep-voiced rendition of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire."

"What are you doin' here, man?" Willey asked as Turpin bagged his brews.

He followed that tune with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which had at least one customer whistling along as he browsed the shelves.

"I just love sharing the gift that I have," Turpin said.

The liquor store gig, he adds, is helping to pay for school — in the spring he'll graduate with a bachelor's degree from the UBC School of Music. In addition to work and school, Turpin sings in three choirs: the UBC University Singers, the UBC Choral Union and the UBC Chamber Choir.

Strangely enough, Turpin never set out to be a singer. As a Gleneagle secondary student, he'd always played the saxophone but in Grade 11, a friend dared him to join the choir.

"For the first few months, it was the biggest joke in the world but then I found I really enjoyed it," he said.

A teacher at the then-Capilano College, where Turpin first started his post-secondary music studies, spotted his talent and encouraged him to pursue voice studies. Turpin went on to spend eight seasons singing with the school's award-winning Laudate Singers under the direction of Lars Kaario.

Now that he's close to finishing his music degree at UBC, Turpin plans to get his teaching certificate so that he can become a high school music teacher.

"I love the idea of being able to pass on what I've learned," Turpin said. He has volunteered at Riverside secondary in PoCo as well as a school in Burnaby, and discovered the joy of making an impact on students.

It will be a couple of years before Turpin is singing in front of a classroom but, in the meantime, he's happy to serenade his customers and spread some unabashed, deep-voiced holiday joy.

"For me, music is my life," Turpin said. "It just comes so naturally to me."

spayne@tricitynews.com

 

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