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(Posted 11 a.m., Dec. 2)

31st Christmas Choirfest raises $2,600 for local foodbanks
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Each year, on the last Sunday in November, church choirs from across Orléans gather to celebrate the holy season in song and scripture while raising thousands of dollars for local foodbanks.

This year the Choirfest fell on the same Sunday as the Grey Cup. That’s not unusually, but was unusual this year is that the Grey Cup involved a team from Ottawa for the first time since 1981.

The participating choirs at this year’s Orléans Christmas Choirfest join together for the grande finale, bringing the concert to a close. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Both events started at the same time and when the Sonshine Singers took the stage to open the Choirfest, it was clear that a good many people had chosen to cheer on the Redblacks rather than attend the concert.

Those people who did come out, were treated to a night of Christmas classics and some not so familiar songs celebrating the holiday season.

The Sonshine Singers kicked off the proceedings with an emotional performance of “How Great is Our God”, a song made popular by contemporary Christian music performer Chris Tomlin.

The chorus is made up of a talented group of able-bodied and developmentally challenged youth under the direction of Cathy Goddard, who is a recording artist in her own right.

The group was followed on stage by the Cross Town Youth Chorus which sang “Little Drummer Boy”. The senior members of the chorus then sang “Rise Up Sheppard and Follow”, accompanied by Alvaro Minaya on traditional drums.

One of the highlights of the Choirfest is the singing of Christmas carols between each performance, during which time members of the audience are encouraged to join in.

The first ensemble carol of the evening was one of my personal favourites, “O Come All Ye Faithful”. A passage from the Bible describing the birth of Jesus is also read between each performance.

The Orléans United Church choir followed the Cross Town singers in stage. The talented ensemble sang “Scots Nativity” and “What Strangers Are These”.

After the audience joined together in singing “What Child is This”, the Cumberland Community Singers took to the stage to sing “Gospel Noel” and “African Angel Noel”, the latter accompanied on traditional African drums by the aforementioned Minaya.

The Queenswood United Church choir followed with a performance of “Alleluia for Advent”, and “The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy” accompanied by flautist Julia Picotte.

The entire audience then joined together for “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, during which freewill donations were collected for the area’s two local foodbanks.

The next chorus to take the stage was the St. Helen’s Anglican Church choir which sang “Angel’s Carol” and “Carols Around (And Around)”.

They, in turn, were followed by the host Community Pentecostal Church choir which sang “Shine On Us” and “It’s Christmas”.

The highlight of the night, as it is every year, was the coming together of all the choirs to close out the show. This year the massed chorus sang “When Christmas Comes”, followed by “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “Peace, Peace”, which traditionally brings the Choirfest to a close.

As has been the case from the event’s conception 31 years ago, this year’s Christmas Choirfest was once again organized by Lynne Stacey with the help of a six member organizing committe and dozen or more volunteers.

This event managed to raise over $2,600 which will be evenly split between the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre and the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard.

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



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