- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than ever, Calvert is ringing in the holidays this year with joyful sounds. In addition to the many fine church choirs presenting special programs for their congregations, there has been an outpouring of beautiful seasonal music from the county’s many fine musicians and groups.
Many of these public concerts have been free, with performances donated by the musicians. Some of the concerts have requested a free will donation for a charity or for the furtherance of the hosting organization’s mission and programs.
Patuxent Voices, that fine, all-women’s a cappella group of Southern Maryland, presented its holiday concerts the weekend of Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at each of three area churches: All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunderland, Middleham and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lusby and Trinity Church on the campus of St. Mary’s College.
The concert featured Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols,” as well as traditional carols and popular Christmas songs. To this writer’s knowledge, this is the first time the Britten work has been presented in this area by a local group. Britten’s work for voices and harp, written in the dark days of 1942, consists of seven Christmas carols using medieval texts from “The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems.” The work includes a harp solo, a processional and a recessional.
The Chesapeake Community Chorus presented its 2012 Christmas concert offering, “Music for the Season,” that same weekend of Dec. 15 and 16, first at Mt. Hope United Methodist Church in Sunderland, and the following day at Olivet United Methodist Church in Lusby. This group’s concerts are eclectic, featuring sacred music from all eras, from traditional, classical, gospel and contemporary composers. This year’s Christmas concert featured works by John Milford Rutter and Pepper Choplin, contemporary composers of sacred music. Their rendition of folk songs like “Shenandoah” is hauntingly lovely.
The Chesapeake Community Chorus, now in its 10th season, is a volunteer group of 30 singers who give several public concerts annually. The concerts are free, but a free will offering is requested to support local charitable organizations. Calvert Hospice has been a recipient of funds from at least two of the group’s concerts. Altogether, the Chesapeake Community Chorus concerts have raised considerably more than $50,000 for Calvert charities in the decade of its existence. Because the mission of the chorus is to raise money for charity in addition to singing for the sheer love of the music, many area churches are happy to host the concerts. The churches often provide the concert venue and church volunteers to arrange the logistics on the day of the concert.
The Calvert version of that annual wild holiday event known as the annual Solomons TubaChristmas took place Sunday, Dec. 16, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Solomons. This uproarious and tuneful event attracted 39 tuba players from all over Maryland — even a player from as far away as Pittsburgh. The players ranged in age from 11 years to 77 years, and their tubas, appropriately, were of every size range, and included two giant sousaphones normally heard only in marching bands. These two huge horns were all decked out for the occasion in artificial greens, ornaments and strings of lights. One sousaphone was festooned with a string of colored Christmas lights that blinked on and off during the performance.
All these merry horns hooted, hummed and boomed through a dozen or more traditional favorite carols, helped by the great acoustics of the beautiful sanctuary of the church. The sousaphones reverted to type during one carol, inserting a few bars of “Stars and Stripes Forever” in one verse. Children in the audience were invited up to play bells during the rendition of “Jingle Bells,” and a whole gang of kids of all sizes and ages enthusiastically responded. The kids, even the smallest, were very focused on their task, and managed to keep pretty much in rhythm through a couple of choruses.
Andrew Ritenour, director of bands for Patuxent High School, ably conducted the performance — not the easiest task in the world. Many of the players, coming as they did from such diverse and far-flung locations, hadn’t had much rehearsal time prior to the concert.
The barbershop quartet Fathers and Sons presided at a Holiday Concert and Sing-a-long songfest of Christmas music at the Prince Frederick Library on the evening of Dec. 20. In this writer’s humble opinion, the opportunity to sing carols in a group, in public, is a not-to-be-missed, vital element of Christmas celebrations. Once, choruses went caroling door to door throughout the entire community, enlivening the holidays with simple neighborhood good will. Modern life — and traffic — doesn’t encourage this activity in most communities today, so it’s great that our local groups have made their talents available in public venues, and encouraged audience participation.
For every resident, all my best wishes for a jolly, happy, safe and healthy holiday, replete with good will, good music, good friends and family — and of course, lots of good feasting, including, if you must, a figgy pudding.