Festival of Choirs will be held Sunday in Connellsville
A joyous celebration of music welcomes the season of giving thanks each year.
The Mozart Music Club of Connellsville will present its annual Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs at 6 p.m. Sunday at Wesley United Methodist Church.
Guest performers are two former recipients of the club's yearly scholarships. Chelsea Ritenour and Andy Dukich are both pursuing degrees in music.
“Psalm 98:1 tells us to sing to the Lord a new song for he has done marvelous things. That is what we strive to do on this joyful evening of music. It is a time to join together with friends to celebrate this season of thankfulness. These two talented young musicians, and the voices of our community like no other time of the year. I hope everyone will plan to attend this special evening of music,” said Marilee C. McFadden, coordinator of the Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs.
“I always look forward to the Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs. It's an opportunity for many of our city's church and school choirs to come together and give honor to a holiday that tends to get swept under the rug as the other holidays are fast approaching. The program is a magnificent display of the musical culture that is so vibrant in our area. I'm proud to be a part of it each year,” said Christopher Mickey, an event organizer. “I always look forward to the Thanksgiving Festival of Choirs. It's an opportunity for many of our city's church and school choirs to come together and give honor to a holiday that tends to get swept under the rug as the other holidays are fast approaching. The program is a magnificent display of the musical culture that is so vibrant in our area. I'm proud to be a part of it each year.”
“I have always enjoyed my involvement with the Mozart Music Club. Reflecting on this Festival of Choirs we have had a variety of great talents in all forms over the years, both instrumental and vocal and a variety of wonderful music. One of my most memorable is the year of 9/11 when we had military people in attendance and the church was completely filled. Flags were incorporated that year and it was glorious,” said Joanna Ball, former coordinator of the event.
Sunday's event will begin with organist Kay Springer presenting “A Patriotic Tribute,” which will be followed by the processional hymn sung by those in attendance, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”
Wesley United Methodist Church pastor, the Rev. David Ealy, will give the welcome and call to worship.
Mickey will play for the Introit with the Combined Choir as it presents “Come Ye Thankful People, Come.” The anthem, “Simple Gifts” will be presented by the Combined Choir, directed by Nick Bell, one of the event organizers, also accompanied by Mickey. The congregation will sing “We Gather Together.”
The Connellsville Junior High Chorus will present “Peace Drum Song,” directed McFadden.
Ritenour will perform “Willow Song” by D. Moore and “The Queen of Nights Aria” by Mozart. Ritenour is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University studying Opera Vocal Performance under the direction of Daniel Teadt.
During her four years at CMU she has had the opportunity to perform leading roles in CMU productions such as Cinderella in “Into the Woods,” Laurie in “The Tender Land” and most recently Miss Wordsworth in “Albert Herring.” She has also performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York City with the CMU Repertory and Concert Choirs in 2012.
She is the daughter of Michelle (Shelly) and Chelsea E. Ritenour Jr. She graduated from Connellsville Area High School in 2010. During her time in high school she portrayed the role of Peter Pan in Connellsville's 2009 production of “Peter Pan.”
After her graduation from Carnegie Mellon University in May, she plans to attend a graduate program to further her studies in Opera Vocal Performance.
Dukich is a junior at Alderson Broaddus University. He is in the School of Music for a major in music performance and a minor in business. He is currently one of two tuba majors. He participates in the brass choir and Brass Quintet and in the first year of the Alderson Broaddus Battler Band. He has studied under Paul Hammaker, Zach Collins, and currently Logan Lindsey at ABU. He performed in various events at Connellsville Area High School, such as All State Orchestra.
At ABU he performed at the Tuba Euphonium conference at Fort Meyers in Arlington, Va., and multiple tours with the Brass Choir and Brass Quintet.
During Sunday's event he will present “Six Pack” by James Meador, “Movements 2 Discotheque, 3 Melancholy” by James Meador and “Serenade No. 12” by Vincent Persichetti and “Movement 1 Intrada.”
Also on Sunday, the Geibel Catholic Junior/Senior High Chorus will perform the anthem “Swing Low Sing Low,” directed by Bell.
A free will offering will be accepted and dedicated by the Rev. Robert T. Lubic of the Catholic Parishes of Connellsville. The offering will be used for the awarding of the Pearl Keck and Herb Duggan scholarships given yearly to selected Connellsville Area or Geibel graduates attending college for music.
This annual Festival Of Choirs is the only fundraiser of the Mozart Music Club.
The offertory, “Ode To Thanksgiving,” will be played by organist Springer.
The Rev. Alfred Thompson, from Payne AME Church, will present the pastoral prayer and the benediction. Members of the Connellsville Presbyterian Church choir, directed by McFadden, will present “Peace Canon.”
Scripture will be read by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Spore of Otterbein United Methodist Church.
The Thanksgiving homily will be given by the Rev. Lee Maley of Mt. Olive Evangelical Church.
“Love Grows Here” will be sung by the St. Rita RC Church Choir directed by Henry F. Molinaro, accompanied by Mickey.
“Michael Row That Gospel Boat” will be presented by the Combined Choir, with a special drum segment by Ben Haines, directed by Bell, accompanied by Mickey.
The Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 417 S. Pittsburgh St. in Connellsville.
Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.