2010-12-09 / News

Chorus goes British for the holiday concert

By Cindy Cignone

The Jamestown Community Chorus practices for the upcoming Christmas concert. Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten The Jamestown Community Chorus practices for the upcoming Christmas concert. Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten The Jamestown Community Chorus will feature something different for Christmas music concert selections this season. Under the musical direction of B.J. Whitehouse, the chorus will sing selections from the “Oxford Book Of Carols” intertwined with selected readings from the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.”

Whitehouse said he thought up the idea from a folder he has been keeping throughout the more-than 20 years he has been the chorus director. Inside the folder, Whitehouse has amassed a collection of over 100 English carols. Whitehouse’s design is to do an all-British music arrangement this year entitled “A Very British Christmas, or What The Dickens,” which makes the event very sing-able to the audience.

“There is enough diversity to please the audience by making the chorus very interesting,” Whitehouse said. “The songs are well known and when combined with the 10 readings from ‘A Christmas Carol,’ the show is exceptionally appealing.”

Whitehouse also said to expect different types performances this year. He mentioned that the church organ, accompanied by a piano, would be used in several duets. He also said that the audience could expect a sing-along and that ‘Deck The Halls’ will be sung in Welsh.

The chorus, established in 1949, has been entertaining island audiences for 61 years.

“It takes a very strong commitment to sing with the choir,” Whitehouse said. The chorus meets every Monday for two hours at the Central Baptist Church.

Throughout the year, the chorus will perform at many gala events such as concerts, choral festivals and talent shows, along with last week’s tree lighting ceremony. In addition to the weekly rehearsals, the group must also practice at sectional rehearsals. They had two rehearsals last week and will sing in two performances this week at the 2010 December holiday concert.

Last year, the chorus celebrated its 60th anniversary with a special Christmas recital.

“We looked back over the 60 years,” Whitehouse said, “and we did a reparatory song for every decade. We started with ‘Mule Train’ from 1949 and sang all the way up to 2009. There were songs to reflect the Red Sox winning the World Series, songs from Simon and Garfunkel, songs from the musical ‘Hair’ and a salute to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Over the years we’ve lost a few long standing members. The most recent being Patti Vandal, Rose Farley and Andy Weieker. The members of the chorus are very dedicated and talented. Currently, Ruth Caswell is their longest standing member. She has been singing with the group since the 1950s.”

Today, it comprises 50 members from different communities throughout Rhode Island.

Their scheduled meetings and practices are held at the Central Baptist Church in Jamestown. Along with the “Oxford Book of Carols” and “A Christmas Carol,” the concert is a must for anyone who wants to delve seriously into Christmas music on any level. Holst’s “Christmas Day” and Vaughan-Williams “Fantasia On Christmas Carols” are also included in the program.

The group will perform its 2010 Holiday Concert at the Central Baptist Church at 99 Narragansett Ave.

For tickets, Whitehouse can be contacted directly at 423-1574 or visit Secret Garden, Jamestown Hardware and Baker’s Pharmacy. Prices are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and children. Show times are Saturday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m.

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