Reflections on “Rejoice! A Community Choral Celebration”
On Sunday, December 11, I had the great pleasure of not only narrating and singing with the Deer Creek Chamber Choir in the Maryland Center for the Arts’ second annual concert, Rejoice! A Community Choral Celebration, but I was also the producer. In fact, as the Center’s Cultural Events Coordinator, I created the event in the spring of 2021, when choral groups were forced by Covid restrictions to either disband or sing and perform online. I invited the top six choral groups in Harford County to participate, but only the Chamber Choir and the award-winning Upper Chesapeake Chorus of Sweet Adelines International were willing to commit—for the possibility of sharing a free-will offering.
As the first event drew near, Executive Director Dr. Bob Willenbrink and I looked at the ticket sales and the grants we had received and decided that we were able to financially compensate both groups. The singers and the audience had great fun, and both groups immediately committed to the concert in 2022. I am thrilled to say that both groups had such a good time, again this year, that they are committed to performing in 2023. If you weren’t able to attend this year’s Rejoice!, you can catch your Chamber Choir under Marty’s direction on the Center’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCtqN0WxBN0&t=2226s.
Marty’s wonderful program opened with traditional songs, such as Here We Come a-Caroling, Psalite unigenite, While By My Sheep I Watched at Night, Now is the Month of Christmas, and the Shaker tune The Gift to be Simple, finishing off the set with the Ukrainian Carol of the Bells. We opened the second set with music from the mid-20th century, White Christmas, Silver Bells, and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and left the audience with the serenity of A Song of Peace. Audience sing-alongs included Winter Wonderland, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, and Feliz Navidad, led by The Upper Chesapeake Chorus under the direction of Tyler Horton, as part of their rousing show of barbershop harmony. Since one of the Center’s missions is to support young artists, we also showcased four very-talented students from the Linda Leanza Violin Studio, whose works ran from Rudolph to Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins.
How did this happen? I have worked in the performing arts for over 40 years, split 50/50 between management and performing, not only as a singer, but as an actor, dancer, writer, costumer, director, grant writer, and just about any job you can have short of wiring lights and sound. I produced the first full-length Nutcracker ballet in Harford County in 1985 and created the Harford Dance Theatre’s perennial favorite, Harriett’s Happiest Halloween Besides Rejoice!, I also produce the Center’s Harford Plein Air Festival, which offers over $10,000 in prizes and commissions to professional plein air painters from as far away as Ohio and Florida.
With your support, the arts continue to flourish in our region. Many thanks to Meredith Leroy, Don McGonigle, Wayne and Karen Perry, Hope and Lance Ledebur, Louise and Peter Ballard, Luianne Potter, Jean Sack, and Joan Hodous for cheering us on and to Beth, Casey, Colleen, Jocelyn, Julia, Kathy, Laurie, Mary Beth, Sharon, Wendy, Blair, David, Derrick, Jeff, Joe, Jonroy, Josh, Ryan, and, of course, Marty and Greg for your artistic excellence! Sending everyone in the DCC family the very warmest wishes and looking forward to seeing you in January,