Wabash Valley College and the Wabash Valley Arts Council are pleased to usher in the Christmas season with “The Musical Spirit of Christmas” concert this Sunday, December 4 at 1:30 p.m. in the Brubeck Theatre.
Opening the concert will be the Wabash Valley College Community Choir under the direction of Guest Director Gary Hargett. Directing music is nothing new for Gary Hargett. The Mt. Carmel native and Mt. Carmel High School graduate has many years of choir directing experience, starting at the young age of 16. After earning a degree in Music Education from Oakland City University, Gary served as an organist and choir director in the United Church of Christ in St. Louis for 40 years. He currently serves as the Minister of Music at the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Mt. Carmel.
What is new, however, is Hargett’s position as Guest Director of the Choir. Upon the retirement of Steve Sawyer as Choir Director, Hargett was invited by the College administration to serve as Guest Director for the Choir this year. Under Hargett’s direction, the Choir, whose membership ranges in age from high school students to senior citizens, will “run the gamut of musical styles in ten songs” during the first half of the annual WVC Christmas program.
In their portion of the program, the Choir will diverge from the typical concert choir format of entering from stage left and taking the risers, Choir members will enter with a jazz processional, dressed in flashy Christmas attire. To add some “bling” to the concert, Hargett also plans to add some special lighting effects.
Using a blend of secular and religious songs and employing a variety of musical styles, Hargett hopes to engage the audience rather than to merely entertain them. The pieces Hargett has chosen range from a calypso number to a piece of the Russian Orthodox liturgy.
The Choir will end on a high note with the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, which Hargett quipped “was a way to make sure we got our standing ovation.” The choral part of the concert will end with a candlelight recessional to “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Choir members think Hargett clearly has a passion for music and a desire to see it performed well. When Hargett and his 40-member choir take the stage on December 4, they will be bringing “Good tidings of great joy” to all the people in the audience with energy and enthusiasm, and that’s what Christmas is all about. Choir members include: Janice Alka, Nancy Copley, Pat Cotsakis, Claudia Dant, Sue Hannuksela, Peggy Kolb, Karen McNeil-Utecht, Mary Wonzik, Arielle Bowdoin, JoEtta Briggs, Sharon Mobley, Gail Ritz, Kate Summers, Jackie Summers, Carolyn Tennis, Marcia Woodcock, Victoria
Bayne, Nancy Johns, Sue Schmidt, Lori Ann Schwartz, Mary Trimble, Eudine Tyler, Jamey Walston, Diana Daniel, Carolyn Highhouse, Amy Ireland, Jeanne Tennis, Sherry Beck, Paul Johns, Brenda Marriott, Jim Summers, Joe Thompson, George Beckerman, Bill Berry, Connor Berry, Dub Dallas, Jerry Fromm, Barry Roberts, Pierre Vivongsa, Ron Youngs. Alison Dudley is the pianist accompanist.
The second half of the concert will feature southern gospel recording artists, Fifth Street Revival. Fifth Street Revival first recorded in October of 2005 at Gaither Studios in Alexandria, Indiana. The gospel Christmas songs to be performed will be familiar to many but done with fresh vocal stylings that audiences love.
Fifth Street Revival (Rob Coleman, Jim Cox, Wayne Henegar, and Chris Quick), had a humble start 15 years ago at a local church. Their music now reaches wide acclaim including a global Internet audience’s downloading of their music.
“The Musical Spirit of Christmas” is a concert the entire family will want to attend. Tickets are $6 and are available by calling 618-263-5124, or [email protected] Patron Passes will be honored.