St. Louis Catholic Church will host a holiday concert featuring its choir and other groups on Dec. 16.
St. Louis Catholic Church will host a holiday concert featuring its choir and other groups on Dec. 16. (Howard County File Art)

There are a lot of holiday-themed concerts at this time of year, but surely one of the most ambitious is a free concert titled “Christmas at St. Louis: Holidays, Holy Days ... Hollywood!” that takes place at St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarksville on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m.

“The idea is to encompass as many strands of the holiday season as possible and to have something for everybody,” said Heather Adelsberger, who is now in her fifth year at St. Louis as its music director and also as the artistic director of the St. Louis Concert Series that includes the upcoming concert.

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Adelsberger, who sees her share of traffic while commuting from her Silver Spring home to this Howard County church, will have her traffic management skills put to the test in a musical sense at this concert. That’s because the church’s 40-member choir will be joined by a youth choir, an orchestra and guest artists. Indeed, around 100 performers will be massed at the front of the church.

“It gets a little cramped!” Adelsberger laughed.

The program itself also qualifies as crowded, because she has included a considerable musical assortment.

Among the seasonal songs that everybody will recognize are “O Come, All Ye Faithful” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Joy to the World.”

Great classical composers are represented by selections including Bach’s “Wachet Auf,” Mozart’s “Et Incarnatus Est,” Mendelssohn’s “Then Shall a Star,” Tchaikovsky’s “Trepak” and Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleeves.”

Where American films, TV shows and pop culture in general are concerned, it’s certain that many audience members will know all of the words to “White Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Hence the Hollywood reference in the program’s title, about which Adelsberger noted: “There are so many good Christmas movies, and it’s fun to do music from them.”

Additional songs with movie connections include “Somewhere in My Memory” from “Home Alone,” “We Need a Little Christmas” from “Mame,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” rom “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

#Among those especially looking forward to this Christmas concert are the members of the church choir at St. Louis, who sing liturgical music at mass every Sunday.

“It’s a mix of sacred and secular music, and it opens the doors to the community,” choir member Elizabeth Toth said about the Christmas concert.

She and her husband Richard, who live in Clarksville and have been members of the parish since 2004, like the way in which the choir and other musical activities enhance parish life.

“It’s a huge parish, but somehow it doesn’t feel that way because there is an activity for everybody,” Elizabeth Toth observed.

In terms of musical activity, this Christmas concert is part of an annual concert series that is now in its 13th year. The church choir participates in several of these concerts, while other concerts bring in a number of outside musicians.

Most of the concerts in this series are free and are held in the current main church building that opened in 2006; however, some of the concerts have an admission fee and are held in the church's 1889 chapel.

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The remainder of the St. Louis Concert Series presents the Aleks Izotov Trio in a jazzy, Mardi Gras-themed concert on March 1; the Eya Ensemble performing medieval music on April 6 in the 1889 chapel ($10 ticket); duo pianists Molly Orlando and Heather Adelsberger, along with the St. Louis Orchestra, featured in a spring-themed program on April 28; and a patriotic pops program featuring Barclay Brass on May 19.

The free concert Christmas at St. Louis: Holidays, Holy Days ... Hollywood! is on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church, 12500 Clarksville Pike (Route 108) in Clarksville. Call 410-531-6040 or go to stlconcertseries.org

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