For the past 30 years, Carroll County has been plunged into the holiday season with a collection of the world's Christmas and Hannukah songs at the annual Children's Chorus of Carroll County winter concert. This year, for the show's 30th anniversary, executive director John Hobert said the group has worked extra hard to ensure the concert is a meaningful one.
The concert brings together six different directors in charge of the chorus' six vocal groups, separated by age and ability, with singers ranging in age from kindergarten to high school seniors. According to Holbert, the concert will feature a unique blend of holiday classics and more obscure pieces.
"As chorus directors, we work to expose the children in the chorus to foreign and some of the more unique cultural Christmas songs from around the world," Holbert said. "There's going to be the standard classics, but people might find something they've never heard before."
Holbert said a few of the directors have created their own arrangements specifically for the concert, giving audiences a chance to hear several pieces for the first time, including an arrangement of "Noel Noel" by Rachel Morgan. Other world numbers include the French "Sing We Now of Christmas," "Lo! How a Rose Er'e Blooming," and "Happy Chanukah with S'Vivon."
Those who prefer to hear some of their favorite tunes won't be left out in the cold, as the chorus will perform special renditions of some of the most popular holiday tunes, like "Go Tell it on the Mountain" and "Holly Jolly Christmas." For the Christmas favorites, the chorus will hand out lyric sheets along with their pamphlets so aspiring carollers can sing along with the chorus with the popular hits.
According to Diane Jones, director of the Cantare Bel Canto I group comprised of sixth- through 12th-grade singers, directors submitted their pieces in late summer to give the students the entire fall to prepare for the winter concert.
"People are always amazed at the beauty and the finesse of the children and their abilities," Jones said. "They practice so hard in a number of styles to get ready for this concert."
The chorus performs two major concerts annually, their spring and winter celebrations. In addition to these concerts, the group performs at smaller functions throughout the year. Two weeks ago, the group was able to practice their holiday repertoire while traveling on a float in the Miracle on Main Street holiday parade in Westminster.
In June, the group performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time at the National Children's Chorus Festival. The group has been rehearsing for the winter concert ever since returning from the trip, according to Jones.
Each of the Children's Chorus concerts are completely free and open to the public. Hobert said it's vital to provide the community with the chorus' blend of traditional and modern pieces. He said music is a public good, and one they are glad to provide for the masses.
"It's a good way for audiences to get into the Christmas mode, with all of the beautiful music that we'll be offering," Hobert said. "In addition to that, it's a good opportunity for children to get up in front of a large group and share their expertise and poise and confidence."