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A choral Christmas

Choruses will entertain with festive music for the holiday season tis weekend in Hagerstown

Choruses will entertain with festive music for the holiday season tis weekend in Hagerstown

December 09, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Two local choruses will herald the holiday season with song this weekend.

Hagerstown Choral Arts' 12th annual holiday concert, Christmas with Hagerstown Choral Arts, will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. The St. Patrick's Chorale's The Colors of Christmas concert will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at Christ's Reformed Church in Hagerstown.

Both shows will feature secular and sacred songs that celebrate the spirit of the season, choral directors said. Pianist Darleen Smith will accompany both choruses.

Hagerstown Choral Arts


Hagerstown Choral Arts' more than 80 vocalists will present a 75-minute concert that will include a mix of traditional holiday tunes, selections from the group's new Christmas CD - which will be sold at the concert - and such sacred songs as Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," music and artistic director Gregory Shook said.

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The group also will perform a new arrangement of composer Howard Goodall's the "Magnificat" from "The Marlborough Canticles" - a piece that takes its inspiration from the Bible's Book of Luke, Shook said.

"It's Mary's song. ... It's just a wonderful, very expressive musical setting of that text," Shook said of the "Magnificat." "I don't know that it's been performed around here ever before."

Several songs from Hagers-town Choral Arts' premier CD, including the traditional English carol "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day" and "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine," will round out the concert, said Shook, who praised the vocal talent of choir members and the contributions of Smith and accompanying violinist Jeff Thurston. A former music director and associate pastor at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, Shook has continued to lead Hagerstown Choral Arts since moving to Woodbridge, Va., to serve as a pastor. He said it was hard to explain why he continues to travel to Hagerstown every Tuesday evening for chorus practice.

"I really don't have words for it," he said. "It does something inside, and it just means a lot to get 80 people together and have them work together, especially when things in our world today are so disjointed."

St. Patrick's Chorale


The St. Patrick's Chorale will present a free Christmas concert with an Irish twist and some unexpected turns.

"We try to keep an Irish flavor in all of our Christmas music," said choral director Sandra Shirey of Hagerstown, who formed the chorus in 1997 after falling for "The St. Patrick's Mass" by Philip Green. The nonprofit chorus, which depends upon donations for support, now boasts 40 to 50 members who perform two free concerts annually - a Memorial Day show and a Christmas concert.

"All of our performances are free so that many people in our community who might not be able to afford those other concerts can afford our Christmas concerts and patriotic concerts," Shirey said. She described this weekend's concert "as being all the moods of Christmas, from secular to sacred. The fun times, the sacred times and everything in between."

The 11 musical selections include seasonal favorites such as "Winter Wonderland," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "Oh Happy Day" and a whimsical piece to be performed by 10 children, "Christmas ... In About Three Minutes."

"There will be a few surprises for the audience," Shirey said.

Musicians Darleen Smith, Laurie Graves and Marlin Barnes will provide accompaniment on piano, organ and percussion, she said.

The St. Patrick's Chorale will present its newest patriotic program, Songs for the Faces of Honor, on Saturday, May 28, at The Maryland Theatre, said Shirey, who writes a show for the Memorial Day performance each year. The 2005 program focuses on veterans of the Vietnam War and songs of the 1960s, she said.

Hagerstown Choral Arts' next concert - which Shook said will feature "a little of this, a little of that" - will be held Friday, April 22, at Hagerstown Community College.

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