Volume 10 Week 10

Friday, Feb. 23


Updated July 223

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 12:30 a.m., Dec. 4)

Christmas Choirfest a choral celebration of the holiday season
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Twelve choirs from across the east end gathered at the Community Pentecostal Church on Sunday night to take part in the 24th Annual Orléans Christmas Choirfest. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The holiday season got off to an exultant start on Sunday as 12 local choirs joined forces to celebrate faith, fellowship and the arrival of Advent during the 24th annual Orléans Christmas Choirfest.

More than 1200 people packed the Community Pentecostal Church on St. Joseph Blvd. to enjoy seasonal anthems, listen to readings from the Holy Scripture and sing along to traditional Christmas carols between performances.

The Community Pentecostal Church Orchestra got the evening off to a festive start with a Christmas medley under the direction of Marlene Toth.

This year's Christmas Choirfest was once again organized by Orléans resident Lynne Stacey who dedicated the evening to Judy Simmons, a long time member of both the Cumberland Community Singers and the Queeswood United Church choir who passed away unexpectedly last month.

"It was really important to me that we honoured her in such a way. She always loved this evening and what it was all about," said Stacey.

Five different denominations were represented at this year's Choirfest. There were also six youth choirs present including the Sonshine Singers and the
St. Peter Catholic High School Choir.

Besides serving as a communal means to celebrate the season, the Choirfest is also an important fundraiser. Organizers collected an all-time high $4,000 during a freewill collection taken midway through the program which will be split between the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard and the Orleans Cumberland Resource Centre Emergency Food Program.

Planning for the concert begins in September when the one and only organizing meeting is held. The choirs then submit the selections they are going to sing and spend the next two months rehearsing.

Among the highlights of this year's Choirfest was the opening performance of "Away in A Manager" song by members of the Sonshine Singers, the Cross Town Youth Chorus, the Community Pentecostal Kidz Choir and the Orleans United Church Junior Choir.

The Orleans United Church Junior Choir did a superb job during their individual performance as well, singing "He Comes!".

The Divine Infant Roman Catholic Church choir drew a loud round of applause for their performance of "Come See", which they sang with the St. Francis of Assisi Primary Choir, and the Cumberland Community Singers received an ovation for their performance of the "Nativity Carol" and "Praise His Holy Name", which featured several vocal refrains from director Kurt Ala-Kantti and the musical accompaniment of Mathieu Saindon on piano.

Other notable performances were turned in by the St. Helen's Anglican Church choir, which received a standing ovation for their performance of "A Christmas Carillon", and the Community Pentecostal Church choir which sang "We Have Come To Worship Him" and "For Unto Us A Child Is Born".

One of the unique things about the Christmas Choirfest is that the audience is encouraged to sing familiar carols of the season in between performances such as "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hark The Herald Angels Sing".

The program also included performances by the Queenswood United Church choir, the Grace Presbyterian choir, the Orleans United Church choir and the St. Peter Catholic High School Choir which received a rousing ovation for their rendition of "There's a Baby Born in Bethlehem" and "Grace".

But as is the case every year, the highlight of the night came near the end when all 12 choirs gathered on stage to sing as one. The first song they sang was "Christmastime", followed by "Come And Adore Him" during which the audience joined in as the choirs launched into "O come let us..."

For the finale, the choirs encircled the entire room to sing "Peace, Peace" which has brought all 24 Choirfests to a close. Afterwards, Stacey stood near the front smiling from ear to ear.

"Every single year it just keeps getting better and better," said Stacey. "We're so blessed to be able to bring all these terrific choirs together and raise money for the local resource centres. What did we raise tonight, $4,000? That's the best ever. I'm absolutely thrilled."

The Christmas Choirfest kicks off a series of choral celebrations that continues this Friday and Saturday night with two performances by the Corvo Vivo (formerly the Blackburn Chorus) at the Orleans United Church on Orleans Blvd. Curtain time both nights is 7:30 p.m. and admission is $15 per person. Children 12 and under are admitted for free.

The Community Pentecostal Church Choir will be presenting Handel's Young Messiah this Sunday at the church with special guests, the Jubilance Singers and Orchestra from Toronto. There is no charge to attend the concert, however a freewill offering will be taken for the Samaritan Ministry Christmas food basket program. The concert begines at 6 p.m.

Finally, the Cumberland Community Singers' annual Christmas concert will be held next Wednesday, Jan. 46at 7:30 p.m.. at Orleans United Church starting at 7:30 p.m. with a special guest appearance by the Cross Town Youth Chorus. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. Children 17 and under are admitted for free.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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