(Posted 8:30 p.m., Nov. 30)
kicks off the holiday season in grand style
By Fred Sherwin
youing girl holds a candle as the St. Helen's Anglican Church Choir performs
'Light A Candle' during the 25th Annual Orléans Christmas Choirfest on Sunday.
For the past
25 years, the east end's Christian community has been celebrating the arrival
of Advent by joining together in song and fellowship to raise money for
the east end's two foodbanks.
On Sunday, more
than 1200 people filled the Community Pentecostal Church for the 25th Annual
Orléans Chirstmas Choirfest, which this year featured 11 choirs from five
different Christian denominations.
As the audience
members took their seats, they were serenaded by the heavenly tones of harpists
Joanne Griffin and Heather Flinn who set the mood for the performances to
The task of opening
the Christmas Choirfest is traditional given to the massed children's choirs
which this year consisted of the Community Pentecostal Kidz Choir, the Orleans
United Church Junioir Choir, the Cross Town Youth Chorus, the St. Peter
Catholic High School choir and the Sonshine Singers.
After an upbeat
performance of "The Viirgin Mary Had A Baby Boy", the junior choirs
left the stage to the Sonshine Singers whose rousing and uplifting performance
of "He Reigns" had the audience practically jumping out of their
Pentecostal Kidz Choir slowed things down a bit with "A Strange Way
To Save The World" which featured a duet by two young performers dressed
as Mary and Joseph.
After the Orleans
United Church Junior Choir and the Cross Town Youth Chorus took their turn
on stage, the St. Peter Catholic School choir delivered the first highlight
of the evening with two incredibly strong performances of "His Eye
is on the Sparrow" and "Mary Did You Know".
This is the fifth
year that the St. Peter chorus has performed at the Choirfest under the
direction of Bernie Leger.
just a marvelous event," Leger said after the group's performance.
"There really isn't a lot of opportunities to come together as Christians
to celebrate our faith and as one of the largest choirs in the Catholic
board and one of only two Catholic representatives here along with Divine
Infant, we feel a certain responsibilty to represent."
One of the nicest
aspects of the Chirstmas Choirfest are the moments of audience participation
in between the senior choir performances. Since the audience is mostly made
up of choir members, the singing of traditional Christmas carols like "Hark
the Herald Angels Sing" and "The First Noel" are truely magical.
The St. Peter
High School choir was followed on stage by the St. Helen's Anglican Church
Choir which kept things at a high level with their performance of :"Light
A Candle" and "Kyrie Kum Ba Ya".
Following a communal
performance of "The First Noel", the Grace Presbyterian Church
Choir delivered their version of "Is A Murmuring Dove Nearby"
and "A Manger Gloria".
United Church Choir turned things up a couple of notches with their uplifting
performance of "The Cradle Rocks In Glory!" followed by the spiritual
"Way Down Yonder In Bethlehem".
As a special
treat this year, the Choirfest organizers asked local gospel artist Cathy
Goddard to perform during the freewill offering. The Community Pentecostal
Church member chose "Bethlehem Morning" and "Jesus What A
Wonderful Child" which was met by one of the loudest ovations of the
After the freewill
offering, the Cumberland Community Singers took the stage to perform "O
Night Devine" and "Christmas a la Fa La La". They were followed
on stage by the Orleans United Church Choir, and the host Community Pentecostal
Church Choir which drew an extended ovation for their performance of the
holiday favourite, "O Holy Night" and "Bethleham Calls".
The Divine Infant
Roman Catholic Church Choir was up next and chose to perform the contemporay
Christian classic "Breathe" by Marie Barnett which was absolutely
spell-binding. Afterwards, they were joined on stage afterwards by the St.
Francis Primary Choir to "Blessed Be The God of Israel" accompanied
by Xavier Rankin on the bodhran.
As the audience
sang "Joy To The World" the various choirs massed on stage to
sing "Glory! Glory!" and "Hallelujah! Joy To The World".
For the finale, the choirs encircled the entire room to sing "Peace,
Peace" which has brought all 25 Choirfests to a close.
During the previous
24 Choirfests, the organizers have managed to raise more than $80,000 for
the local Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre food program and
the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard.
program was expected to raise another $4,000 plus for the local foodbanks,
which is music to the ears of the Choirfest's founder and spiritual leader
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 food programs."
This year's Choirfest
was taped by Rogers Channel 22 which will broadcast the event at various
times during the holiday season.
The Orléans Christmas
Choirfest kicks off a series of choral celebrations that continues this
Friday and Saturday night with two performances by the Corvo Vivo at the
Orleans United Church on Orléans Blvd. The program will feature vibrant
South American choral music along wirth a smattering of traditional Christmas
favourites. Curtain time both nights is 7:30 p.m. and admission is $15 per
person. Children 12 and under are admitted for free.
Pentecostal Church Choir will be presenting Handel's Young Messiah next
Sunday 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.
Cumberland Community Singers will present "A Christmas Carol"
with community and celebrity readings at Orleans United Church on December, Dec. 12at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. Children
17 and under are admitted for free.
was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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