Haul out the holly! If you need a little Christmas, be of good cheer. The Wayne Choralaires, under the direction of Patricia Spoor, are here to help. This year’s concerts, “One Holy Night,” are a joyful mix of sacred and secular songs sure to instill the holiday spirit.
After a four-year hiatus, Martha Curtis returns as principal accompanist, and many members of the group will also add their talents as soloists.
The Christmas concerts of the Choralaires, in their fiftieth year of entertaining appreciative audiences, have been a popular Northeastern Pennsylvania tradition for many years. Concerts will be performed in Honesdale, Hawley, and Carbondale.
The program begins with a call for peace, “Da pacem Domine” – “Give us peace, O Lord, in our days,” followed by “We Need a Little Christmas” from the musical “Mame,” and then “Winter Wonderland” by Honesdale’s own Dick Smith. Betsy Black and Doug Dixon will be the soloists for “Silent Night.”
Then comes a jazzy arrangement of the traditional African-American spiritual “Children, Go Where I Send Thee.” There is no place like “Home for the Holidays,” here with solos by Joyce Schafer and Paul McGinnis. Marissa Nacinovich takes a star turn as quite the diva in “Variations on ‘Jingle Bells.’”
The first part of the concert concludes with “It’s a Wonderful Christmas,” a medley of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) and “Because It’s Christmas.” Soloists will be Dennice Barbour and Kevin Palan.
During intermission, Pat Spoor and Martha Curtis will perform a keyboard duet based on the “Ukrainian Bell Carol.”
Pat says this season’s concerts will be “bittersweet” for her since they will mark the end of her formal association with the Choralaires after over forty years as an accompanist, singer and as the major director since 1998. “It has been a joyous time in my life,” she says.
The concert will resume with “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” a haunting French carol with solos by Julie Emig and Alan Sweetman.
“What Sweeter Music,” a setting of a poem by the seventeenth-century poet Robert Herrick, will feature a solo by Valerie Hyduchak, followed by a gentle choral arrangement of “The First Noel.”
Betsy Black will then step up to conduct “Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine,” a traditional German carol, accompanied by Martha Curtis and Cindy Robbins in a keyboard duet. “O Nata Lux” (“O Light, Born of Light”) and “O Holy Night” continue the reverential mood. Celebration takes over with “Gloria Fanfare,” then “The Work of Christmas” brings us back to Earth to remind us that the wondrous event that took place so many years ago makes demands on us.
As the song’s composer, Dan Forrest, wrote about Howard Thurman’s text, “Its beautiful lines call us not to merely take in the sights and sounds of the Christmas celebration, but to respond by doing our part in working toward the ‘peace on earth’ that we so often sing about.”
The concert will conclude with the Choralaires’ traditional Christmas ending, “Peace, Peace,” interweaving “Silent Night.”
Concerts will be Sunday, November 26, at 2 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church, 11th and Church Streets, Honesdale; Thursday, November 30, at 7 p.m. at St. Rose of Lima Church, Carbondale; and Sunday, December 3, at 2 p.m. at B.V.M. Queen of Peace Church, Church and Chestnut Streets, Hawley. Choralaires concerts are designed to appeal to people of all ages and reflect a wide range of musical styles.
Admission is free, but free-will offerings will be gratefully accepted to help defray the costs of music.