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>> ANNUAL CANDLELIGHT CONCERT MIXES CAROLS AND A SALUTE TO BROADWAY
Spotsylvanians celebrate 10 years of entertaining the community

 Alexander Smith directs the group during a show at the Concert in Lights at the Village at Towne Centre.
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Date published: 11/22/2012

BY ADELE UPHAUS-CONNER

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Energy, energy, energy.

That's the motto The Spotsylvanians' director Alexander Smith coined for the community chorus. And while Smith has been music conductor for the group for only a few seasons, it's a fitting motto for an organization that has been going strong for 10 years.

"I think it's the enthusiasm and friendliness of the group that keeps us going," said longtime member John Haskins.

The chorus will present its 10th annual Christmas Candlelight Concert on Dec. 8 and 9 at Spotsylvania Middle School.

The concert is traditionally known as the group's free gift to the community.

"We're not in this to make money or prove to the world that we can sing arias," Haskins explained. "Our mission is just to bring good-quality choral music to the community. We're not professionals, just singers from all walks of life, and together we think we sound pretty good!"

Of The Spotsylvanians' 50 voices, 11 have been with the group from the beginning, when founding conductor Bob Estes placed an ad asking for people interested in forming a community chorus. Some of the charter members were looking for activities to share with their husbands and wives; some were lifelong singers in search of a new musical home.

Charter member Dot Abula described the excitement she felt permeating the fledgling group.

"We just wanted to do something for the community, something that would make everyone in the area happy," she explained.

That sense of a mission kept The Spotsylvanians going through the death of its original conductor and a tense period during which a chunk of its membership left to form a new singing group.

"That was tough for us, but we came back really well," Haskins said.

Part of that recovery was assisted by Stephen Burton, a longtime professor of music at the University of Mary Washington who took over direction of The Spotsylvanians after the split. Burton was dying of pancreatic cancer, but wanted to spend the time he had left with the group.

Abula described the time with Burton as perhaps her most memorable experience with The Spotsylvanians.


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What: The Spotsylvanians 10th Anniversary Christmas Candlelight Concert When: Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m.

Where: Spotsylvania Middle School, 8801 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania

Cost: Admission is free. Info: 540/582-8541; spotsylvanians.com