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Hagerstown Choral Arts packs Trinity Lutheran Church

December 12, 2004|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

All over Hagerstown and beyond Saturday afternoon, there were between 350 and 400 fewer Christmas shoppers, cookie bakers, tree trimmers and gift wrappers to be found.

They instead were enjoying the 12th annual Christmas With Hagerstown Choral Arts concert at Trinity Lutheran Church on North Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

"I'm here because my wife, Nancy, is singing," said Gerry Sandberg of Martinsburg, W.Va. He and his friend, Ralph Wesser, also a Martinsburg resident, were admiring the grandeur of the church sanctuary while they waited for the concert to begin.

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When 4 p.m. rolled around, it was standing room only in the ample sanctuary.

"We have really been looking forward to this event," said Carolee Kelley of Clear Spring, who accompanied her husband, Charles "Ray" Kelley. "It's the first time for both of us."

Beginning with "Suite No. 1 - Sinfonia" by Johann Sebastian Bach, music and artistic director Gregory Shook then invited the audience to sing along with the familiar hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

Next was "There is No Rose of Such Virtue."

The group performed a lullaby followed by a piece honoring Joseph, often the forgotten man in the Christmas story. The full power of the chorus then was felt as "O Magnum Mysterium" was performed.

Shook announced that "The Marlborough Canticles - Magnificat" by Howard Goodall would be next, admitting it was one of his favorites.

"It's a song of possibilities," Shook said. "And we all need that in this world, don't we. Magnificat is truly magnificent."

"Mary's Lullaby" and an alternate version of "Midnight Clear" rounded out the first half of the performance.

Following intermission, the audience again got to sing along with "Joy To The World" and "Silent Night."

Also performed by the chorus was another Bach holiday favorite, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," and works by Morten Lauridsen and John Rutter.

"I came because my former pastor, Torben Aarsand, sings in the chorus," said Carrie Brandt of Hagerstown. She brought her husband, Joe, and their nephews, Matthew and Andrew D'Allura, with her. They all were attending for the first time and at intermission, it was thumbs up all around for the program.

Soprano Melinda Warren was guest artist for Saturday's program. A veteran of several nationwide tours and concert appearances, Warren currently is director of music at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Hanover, Pa.

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