ESCANABA - It all began as a good-natured competition in 2003. Since that time, the original "The Battle of the Choirs" has evolved into an annual event that gives area church choirs an opportunity to showcase their individual talents as well as to join forces to provide the community a varied program of beautiful Christmas music.
The 10th annual Community Christmas Concert will be presented Sunday at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph & St. Patrick Church in Escanaba.
"It's hard to believe this is our tenth year," said Loretta DeChristopher, who has been a participant since the beginning. "Marie Peterson and I put our heads together and got it started. It was a lot of fun."
Dorothy McKnight |?Daily Press
Altos, from left, Jeanne Korpi, Emily Hossele, Sue Hubbard and Ellie O’Donnell, rehearse “Candlelight Carol” for Sunday’s 10th Annual Community Christmas Concert. In addition to performing their own individual Christmas selections, all eight participating choirs and choruses will join together to perform three numbers, including Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” The concert will be held at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph &?St. Patrick Church in Escanaba.
Immanuel Lutheran choir director, Ray Miller, above, directs the combined ecumenical choirs in “Candlelight Carol,” one of three Christmas selections to be performed at the Community Christmas Concert on Sunday.
John Ignatowski, director of music and liturgy for St. Joseph & St. Patrick Parish, will accompany the combined choirs.
According to DeChristopher, six church choirs will be participating in this year's concert, along with the Remnants Barbershop Chorus and the Bay de Noc Choral Society. The churches include the choirs of St. Anne, St. Anthony, and St. Joseph & St. Patrick Catholic Parishes, First Presbyterian, and Immanuel Lutheran, all of Escanaba; and Memorial United Methodist Church in Gladstone.
"Each choir is asked to sing two pieces of their own," said Katie Gravelle, choir director for St. Anne's Parish. "But it's also nice to see what others are doing."
"As a choir member, it's nice to be able to perform, not only in their own churches, but also to have the opportunity to perform for each other," DeChristopher added. "So much of what the choirs are able to do goes with the size of the choir and what they are able to handle. Some choirs invite extra instrumentalists to perform with them."
In addition to their individual selections, all the choirs and choruses - with approximately 150 voices - will join together to sing "Candlelight Carol" by John Rutter, "Do You Hear What I Hear" with lyrics by Noel Regney and music by Gloria Shayne, and Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus."
Directing the "Candlelight Carol" will be Ray Miller, director of Immanuel Lutheran Choir. "Do You Hear What I Hear" will be directed by Gravelle. Presbyterian and Bay de Noc Choral Society director, Ann Wood, will direct the "Hallelujah Chorus." Accompanist is John Ignatowski, director of music and liturgy for St. Joseph & St. Patrick Parish. The St. Joseph & St. Patrick Bell Choir will perform the prelude.
A free-will offering will be taken during the concert with proceeds divided between each participating choir to help cover expenses and to assist with the purchase of new music.
Following the concert, refreshments will be served. According to DeChristopher, each choir is expected to bring 12 dozen cookies with all remaining cookies offered for sale.
The church is located at 709 First Ave. South in Escanaba.