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Bob Monette



(Posted 9:30 p.m., Dec. 2)

29th Annual Christmas Choirfest heralds in the holiday season
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

A mass chorus featuring members of six different area choirs bring the 2013 Christmas Choirfest to a close Sunday evening. Fred Sherwin Photo

Ten local choirs gathered at Community Pentecostal Church in Orléans on Sunday to herald in the holiday season through a combination of song and scripture.

The 29th annual event was once again kicked off by the combined children's choirs from the Sonshine Family Ministries, Orleans United Church, the Crosstown Youth Chorus and the Community Pentecostal Church, which sang a beautiful rendition of "Away in the Manger".

The stage was then cleared leaving the Sonshine Singers who sang a medley of "The Virgin Mary Had a Little Boy", "Behold That Star" and "Go Tell It On The Mountain" featuring soloists Precious Iziomon and Christina and Victoria Goddard.

After a reading from Isaiah 40 verses 1-11, the Orleans United Youth Choir sang "Come A-Riding" followed by the Cross Town Youth Chorus who sang a whimsical version of "Peace on Earth" with lots of little crickets.

The youth portion of the Choirfest was brought to a close by the Community Pentecostal Kids Choir who sang "Believe" featuring soloists Samantha Presseault, Kinsley Jura and Emma Bastien.

Part of every Choirfest are the musical interludes during which the audience joins in the singing of such Christmas classics as "O Come All Ye Faithful", "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" and "Angels We Have Heard On High" while each choir takes the stage.

After a reading of Luke 2 verses 1-7, the Cumberland Community Singers took the stage to sing a medley of "Away In A Manger" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" featuring soloist Katie Gratton, followed by "Rise Up Shepherd".

The audience then joined in the singing of "What Child Is This" followed by Luke 2 verses 8-12 which set the stage for the Orleans United Church choir who performed "This Blessed Christmas Night" and "If You Would Hear the Angels Sing".

The first half of the program was brought to a close by the Divine Infant Roman Catholic Church choir who sang "Mary, Mary" followed by a truly spellbinding performance of "O Night Divine".

A freewill collection was then taken while the Zephyr Harp Duo provided a musical interlude. A total of $3,740 was raised which will be divided equally between the Gloucester Food Cupboard and the Orleans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre's Christmas Hamper program.

Following the collection and a reading of Matthew 2 verses 1-6, the St. Peter High School student choir took the stage to sing "Deck the Rooftop" followed by "Mary Did You Know", featuring soloists Rebecca Atkinson and Greg Moreau, which was greeted by the only standing ovation of the evening.

The audience then joined together to sing "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear". After a reading of Matthew 2 verses 7-12, the St. Helen's Anglican Church choir took the stage to sing "Joy in Judea" and "In Dulci Jubilo", providing yet another highlight to what was a magical evening.

The final choir to perform was the Queenswood United Church choir who sang "The Peace Carol" and "The Child Who Is Born To Be A king" which received another rousing ovation.

As the audience once again joined in the singing of "Joy To The World", all the choirs assembled on the stage for a mass performance of "Glory to God in the Highest" and "Rejoice and be Merry", the later of which featured Tom Spear on the glockenspiel.

The evening was brought to a close with the choir members completely encircling the room to sing "Peace, Peace" accompanied by harpists Joanne Griffin and Heather Flinn.

The Choirfest is the brainchild of Lynne Stacey who has led the way in organizing all 29 events. Stacey is a founding member of the Cumberland Community Singers, the founder of the Cross Town Youth Chorus and a member of the Queenswood United Church choir.

The first Christmas Choirfest was held in 1985 as a way to celebrate the music of the holiday season while raising money for area foodbanks.

The woman in charge of the Choirfest since day one has been Lynne Stacey, who was once again kept busy as the lead organizer, part-time accompanist and vocalist with both the Queenswood United Church choir and the Cumberland Community Singers.

Although Stacey is the lead organizer of the event, she was assisted admirably by a committee of six people that includes Kurt Ala Kantti, Emily Adams, Lise-Marie Hollis, Scott Richardson, Michelle Godin, Bernie Leger, and Pastor Stephen Crilly.

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



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