Commonwealth Chorale to present two ‘Christmas Baroque’ concerts

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Commonwealth Chorale will return to the concert stage on Dec. 5, 4 p.m., at Crenshaw United Methodist Church, 200 Church Street, Blackstone, and Dec. 12, 4 p.m. at Farmville United Methodist Church, 212 High Street.

“Christmas Baroque” features a combined selection of choruses and arias from Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and Handel’s “Messiah.” Bach and Handel were both born the same year in 1685. Bach composed his oratorio between 1734-35, and Handel composed “Messiah” in 1741.

Standing the test of time, both master works continue to captivate audiences year after year.

An orchestra will accompany the Chorale for both concerts. Instrumentalists and members of the Chorale come from Farmville, Lynchburg, Boonesville, Quinton, Richmond, Midlothian, Forest and Roanoke.

Soloists for the concert include Sarah Reynolds, Dr. Pamela McDermott, Dr. Christopher Swanson and Brian Hobbs.

Carol Henderson, B.M., M.M., pianist, organist and choir director from Buffalo Junction near Clarksville, has been the Chorale’s artistic director since 2019. She studied sacred music with a concentration in organ and minor in conducting and voice at Westminster Choir College earning bachelor of music and master of music degrees.

The Chorale’s Christmas concerts have been a tradition in Southside Virginia since 1975 when Norma Williams organized the group. After more than 20 years of inspired leadership, Williams stepped down as artistic director in 2018. Several interim directors, including Dr. Pam McDermott, director of choral activities at Longwood University, and Judy Amos, handbell director at Farmille UMC, served as interim directors.

The Chorale did not perform in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Despite obstacles that lingered into 2021, the Chorale resumed rehearsals in September in preparation for this year’s Christmas concerts.

“We are excited to be performing again,” Henderson stated. “The Commonwealth Chorale is an important asset to the community, and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Admission to both “Christmas Baroque” concerts is free; however, seating will be limited. In accordance with CDC guidelines, those who attend are asked to wear masks. For those who prefer to watch at home, the Dec. 12 concert at Farmville UMC will be live streamed on Facebook (see the Chorale’s Facebook page for further information).

Visit commonwelathchorale.org or the Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia Facebook page for more information on the Chorale.