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Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs is a holiday tradition in Connellsville

| Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 9:56 p.m.

It's become a holiday tradition — the Mozart Music Club's annual Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs.

It's a celebration of music that welcomes the holiday season of giving each year in Connellsville.

This year's festival will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Wesley United Methodist Church on South Pittsburgh Street.

Guest performers are two former recipients of the club's Pearl Keck and Herb Duggan Scholarships — presented to Connellsville Area or Geibel high school students who plan to pursue a career in music — Mike Tomaro and Alyssa Hensel.

Tomaro is currently the director of jazz studies at Duquesne University. Hensel is currently studying at Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

The prelude and special music will be presented by Fay-West Brass, a group which participates annually in the Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs. The band is directed by Chris Hornick.

The Fay-West Brass will be joined with the Combined Choir for the anthem, “He Never Failed Me Yet,” with soloist Blake Michaux.

The program will include many area choirs including St. Rita RC Church Choir, with director Henry F. Molinaro and accompanist Christopher Mickey, singing “Remember Me;” Geibel Catholic Middle/High School Chorus, directed by Nick Bell, singing “We Are Marching,” which is a South African spiritual (Ben Haines will play djembe for this number); Connellsville Junior High Eighth-Grade Chorus, directed and accompanied by Marilee C. McFadden, singing “Give Thanks;” Payne AME Church, with choir president Toni Colland, singing “God Is My Everything;” Connellsville Presbyterian Church, directed and accompanied by McFadden, singing “Lord of the Dance” and the Combined Choir, directed by Nick Bell, singing several selections with participation from the audience including “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” and “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” accompanied by pianist Levi Graft and organist Mickey. The Combined Choir will also present “Let There Be Peace On Earth” and “Over My Head.”

Tomaro will perform “Angels Around Me.” Hensel will present “Sure On This Shining Night.” Both will perform during the offertory. Tomaro's saxophone piece will be “Sebastian's Theme.” Hensel's soprano voice will fill the sanctuary with “The Lord Is My Light.”

The offertory is a free will offering to be used for the awarding of the scholarships. This annual Festival Of Choirs is the only fundraiser of the Mozart Music Club.

Pastoral prayer will be given by the Rev. Nelson D. Confer of Connellsville Church Of God. Scripture reading of Psalm 118 will be given by the Rev. Mark A. Sholtis of Normalville United Methodist Church. A Thanksgiving homily will be given by the Rev. Alfred Thompson of Payne AME and St. Paul's AME churches. The welcome and call to worship will be given by the Rev. David Ealy of Wesley United Methodist Church. Confer will give the benediction as the congregation sings “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” followed by the postlude played by Fay-West Brass.

“These traditional hymns, the very special guest performers, the talented musicians and singers, all brought together for this festival at this time of year are a gift. We are blessed by those who will present this program and blessed by those who will take time from their busy schedules to enjoy this special evening that is meant to uplift those in attendance, giving them hope and thankfulness. People's souls are touched when music is a part of their lives, they can feel joy or sadness, anticipation or reflection. Music is a very powerful art that can be enjoyed by everyone. May we all give thanks for our families and friends and their well-being. We offer our thoughts and prayers for those who face a difficult recovery from the hurricane. This annual event is a tradition in our community and those of us who plan it do so knowing that people will leave here feeling good and anticipating a wonderful holiday season,” said McFadden, festival coordinator.

The Mozart Music Club thanks volunteers, club President Joanna Ball, the ushers provided by Wesley church, Rod Haines and Stefano's Printing. Contributing to the evening were Fayette County Cultural Trust and the Order of the Eastern Star, Connellsville 247.

There is no admission charged at this event.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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