CHESTERTOWN — Alleluias will ring out as the 90-voice Chester River Chorale heralds Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with its 21st annual presentation of “A Chester River Holiday,” celebrating the season of jubilation, good will and awe with songs of reverence, remembrance and a plea for peace.
For the sixth year, the treble voices of the Chester River Youth Choir, now under the direction of Kimberly Kalicky, will give two performances — at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 and at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 — in the sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown.
“There’s something for everybody in this program,” said chorale artistic Director Douglas Cox. “Programming for ‘A Chester River Holiday’ is one of my favorite things to do because of the many musical possibilities it offers. The holiday season brings out an array of music from many faith traditions, as well as secular favorites that are ever present in the American holiday experience.”
Strings, oboe, flute, harp, percussion, organ and piano are among the instruments backing the singers, who will start the concert with “Caroling, Caroling, now we go: Christmas bells are ringing,” and end it with, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Songs celebrating the nativity in Bethlehem, along with some popular seasonal standards such as “Sleigh Ride” are included, a few of which the audience just might be asked to join in on, a news release states.
Assistant Director Stephanie LaMotte, who also serves as the chorale’s accompanist, will direct two pieces when she is not playing the piano or organ.
The centerpiece of the program are three pieces on the “Star of Bethlehem” ranging from foot-stomping gospel to a modern arrangement of a 19th century hymn.
The pieces will be in Latin, the Kyrie and Gloria from a Franz Schubert mass. Also Gaudete, a spirited medieval song of rejoicing at the birth of Christ, in which the youth choir will join the chorale, the release states.
The Chester Chamber Singers, an auditioned subset of the chorale, will start their set with the youth choir singing about the eight candles of Hanukkah, and then move on to songs ranging from “In the Bleak Midwinter” to “Good Ale.”
Suggested donations at the door are $20. No tickets will be sold. The chorale has been performing to full houses for the past several years, so patrons are urged to come at least 15 minutes early to be assured of being seated.
Chorale members are amateur singers drawn mainly from Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. No audition is required to join the chorale in its upcoming 22nd anniversary.
The Chester River Chorale is a nonprofit funded in part by the Kent County Arts Council and by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.
For more information, visit chesterriverchorale.org or call 410–928-5566.