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Hagerstown Choral Arts hopes to fill area stockings with premie

October 07, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

Forget the sugarplums. Members of Hagerstown Choral Arts have had visions of a compact disc showcasing their music dancing in their heads.

The group's dream finally came to fruition Tuesday, Oct. 5, when it received 1,000 copies of its premiere CD, "Christmas with Hagerstown Choral Arts," from Mercersburg Printing. To celebrate, the musicians gathered at 8:30 p.m. in the social hall of Hagerstown Church of the Brethren for a reception.

Chorus members heard their own voices ringing out across the festively decorated room as they mingled over refreshments.

Torben Aarsand of Hagerstown, a member of the group, was pleased with what he heard.

"I'm very excited," Aarsand said. "I have not yet heard it all, but from what I'm hearing, it's gonna be a great sound for the holiday season."

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Jim Brinkley of Hagerstown, another member of the group, shared Aarsand's excitement.

"This is the first I've heard it," Brinkley said. "It's beautiful."

Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner, who attended the reception, said, "I've always really admired the choral arts group. It's very valuable to put their music in a CD so more people can hear it."

The CD features an eclectic array of Christmas songs that convey the taste of the musical and artistic director of Hagerstown Choral Arts, Greg Shook. CD selections include the traditional English carol "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day," Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" and "Stille Nacht" from Mannheim Steamroller Christmas 1984.

"I chose things we've performed over the years that showed off the group well, and I chose what they liked," Shook said.

Carolyn Mentzer of Hagerstown, president of the group's board of directors and a second soprano with Hagerstown Choral Arts, said the 12-year-old nonprofit group has been wanting to record and distribute a CD for years. Since October 2003, the nearly 100-member chorus rallied to secure the rights to record songs, work out technical issues and obtain a grant from the Community Foundation of Washington County to support recording and copying of the CD.

"We've been hoping this would happen for years. This year we finally said, 'Darn it, we're gonna do it.' So we did and here it is," Mentzer said.

Jessamy McKay, vice president of the board of directors, publicity chairwoman and a second soprano with Hagerstown Choral Arts, said the CD was recorded by Hagerstown-based Quatro Studios at Trinity Lutheran Church during two 3- to 4-hour evening sessions in June.

While McKay said Hagerstown Choral Arts has been receiving increased requests for local performances this year, the group is hoping the CD will further raise its profile as well as its membership.

"Christmas with Hagerstown Choral Arts" soon will be available for between $12 and $14 at area locations, including the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's Symphony Store and the Washington County Arts Council Gallery, and at the Hagerstown Choral Arts Web site at HagerstownChoralArts.org.

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