Thursday, December 23, 2010
Christmas singing tradition Sunday
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Iolans are in for their annual Christmas treat when about 25 community members harmonize sweetly Sunday in the vespers concert at 4 p.m. in the new First Christian Church, at the corner of Kentucky and Oregon roads.
Other obligations cut into performer numbers this year, noted Jim Gilpin, one of the event’s organizers. Even so, “we’ve got the best men’s group we’ve had in years,” he said.
Men and women are equally matched in this year’s choir, which typically favors women’s voices, he said. In years past, as many as 80 individual voices made up the choir, he said.
Carol Chrisenberry, musical director, selected old favorites plus a handful of songs the group has never done before, she said. The new music came via an American Choral Directors meeting Chrisenberry attended this summer.
“It’s all Christmas music,” Gilpin said. “Everyone loves Chirtmas music.”
The concert has been an annual feature of the holiday season since the mid 1950s, organizers said.
Initially a program by and for members of the Iola Music Club, it opened to the community first to enjoy, then to participate in, as time went by, noted Marian Wilson, a member from the get-go. Wilson has sung in “better than 80 percent of the vespers” concerts, she noted.
“I’m looking forward to performing again. I think as long as a few people are willing to do it, it will keep going,” Wilson said of the tradtion.
The concert is sponsored by the Southeast Kansas Christian Artists Series.
There is no charge to attend. This year’s concert is dedicated to the memory of Fern Marsh.