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Conductor Linda Monner leads the Rappahannock Choral Society through a rehearsal
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BY JONAS BEALS
Forget the radio and the record player; holiday music is best experienced live in person. Get a full feast of festive tunes this weekend when the 70-member Rappahannock Choral Society performs its third annual Christmas concert.
Performances are free--one at 8 p.m. Saturday and one at 3 p.m. Sunday--and both will take place in the Chancellor High School auditorium in Spotsylvania County.
Don't be deterred by the cost. This is an audition-only chorus that prides itself in providing a top-notch musical experience.
"I've been singing all my life," said Di Thompson, a soprano who is also the group's corporate secretary. "My first solo was at the age of 4 in a little church in Kansas. This is, by far, the best group I've ever sung with."
The group will tackle some of the most-beloved Christmas carols, popular holiday tunes even some not-so-traditional songs. The program includes "Away in a Manger," "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "Shalom Alechem" and "Mele Kalikimaka." The show wraps up with "The Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah."
Thompson said that past crowds have been large, and have grown with each performance. Although the shows are free, the nonprofit group accepts donations to support a scholarship for a Spotsylvania County high school student who plans to study music after graduation.
The endeavor is supported by volunteers who work behind the scenes to put together a top-notch show.
"It gets me involved in the community," said Chuck Parry, the group's president. He added that when you're a volunteer, "if it's not fun, you just don't do it."
According to Thompson, one of the biggest strengths of the Rappahannock Choral Society is their men. With full alto and bass sections, the group can generate an impressive sound that many smaller choruses aren't able to match. Conductor Linda Monner uses them to great effect. It's a sound that Thompson said "kind of gives me chills."
The entire program, which includes some holiday medleys, runs just over an hour.
"People are going to hear some of the best singers in the area," Thompson said. "The music is fabulous."
Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036
What: Christmas concert, presented by the Rappahannock Choral Society Where: Chancellor High School, 6300 Harrison Road
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 p.m.Cost: Free Info: 540/371-2089; rappahannock-choral- society.org