Hagerstown Choral Arts concert is Sunday

December 17, 1998

Choral ArtsBy MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

photos: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Hagerstown Choral Arts Inc. is presenting an opportunity for people to soak in the music of the holiday season and help herald the coming of Christmas in its performance Sunday, Dec. 20.

One hundred singers and a 20-member chamber orchestra composed of instrumentalists from the Tri-State area will perform "The Music of Christmas" at John Wesley United Methodist Church, 129 N. Potomac St. in Hagerstown. This year there will be two concerts - at 4 and 7 p.m. - since last year's concert was sold out.

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"We turned away over 100 people last year," says Gregory Shook, music and artistic director of Hagerstown Choral Arts.

Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for students. They can be purchased in advance at Machen Music, 1337 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown, or at the door.


The focal point of the concert is J.S. Bach's "Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Christmas Cantata No. 191," says Kristy Keller, 24, of Hagerstown, an alto who serves as the group's secretary.

Featured in the piece will be soprano Melanie Smith of College Park, Md., and tenor Thomas Glorioso of Philadelphia.

Choral Arts"The Bach cantata is the hardest thing I've ever sung," says 17-year-old Henry O'Neill, a tenor who attends North Hagerstown High School. It jumps one and a half octaves in a short span of time, adds Tim Wagner, 15, a fellow tenor, North Hagerstown High student and choral arts member.

Also on the program is an arrangement of "Silent Night" by Mannheim Steamroller and a piece called "Ave, Ave the Angel Sang," composed by Robert Lau of Harrisburg, Pa., a friend of Shook's. Accompanist Eric Bowman will perform a French noel solo on a pipe organ.

Attendees can join in the singing of some traditional carols, including "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "Once in Royal David's City."

"It's neat. The audience gets involved," Wagner says.

The Christmas concert is well-liked in the community, as is the spring pops performance, says Keller. She is in her third season with the group, whose members range in age from teens to retirees.

The choral group includes amateur and professional vocalists. It is now in its fifth season and has grown from 38 members to 100, says Shook, 42. Auditions are held twice a year.

The money raised from ticket sales helps pay for Hagerstown Choral Arts' operating costs, says Shook. The group is funded by Washington County Arts Council, which is helping to sponsor the Christmas concert, and Maryland State Arts Council.


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