FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As the holiday season approaches, practices have begun for a traditional San Pedro Valley event which had its beginnings 40 years ago and which is now known as the Community Christmas Celebration.
In 1973 the Saint David High School Music Department, with the aid of a few local adult singers, performed the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah in the Saint David Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The performance was under the direction of Clark Hughes, the high school choral music teacher. This became a tradition until Mr. Hughes was unable to act as director. Sometime in the late 70’s this event was enlarged to become more fully a community chorus and was named “the Greater Community Chorus and Oratorio Society.”
The performances were appreciated, but attendance was not as large as hoped for. In 1992, it was decided that a real effort should be made to increase community participation and thereby reach a greater audience. Advertisements from that year read “The San Pedro Valley Community Choir presents A Christmas Celebration.” The choir that year was made up of the four LDS ward choirs, the choirs of the Community Presbyterian church, and of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church as well as the Benson Barbershoppers. There were 100 people in the combined groups. The program, which still included the Messiah, also featured traditional carols with the audience joining the singing. Violins, trumpets, and flutes enriched the musical accompaniment. The Benson Barbershoppers performed two numbers, in addition to solos and a duet by community members. Narration was added to the program. On this occasion, the audience numbered nearly 500. Following the program, held in the new LDS chapel on Pomerene Road, the chorus and audience gathered in the cultural hall for punch and cookies. Clearly, everyone loved the new format. The planning committee agreed it was more successful than they could have ever imagined.
Since that time, the production has become known as “The Community Christmas Celebration” and has drawn in all interested singers throughout the San Pedro Valley to become members of the choir. Choir conductors, soloists, guest artists, pianists, organists, and program chairpersons have changed over the years. However, Mary Pat Lansing has continued to lead the Messiah portion of the program. The Benson Barbershoppers remain a featured group as well.
This, the 40th production of this annual event which is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be presented on Sunday, December 8 at 7:30 PM in the church chapel located on Pomerene Road. All those involved in this performance greatly appreciate the community support given in past years. Again this year, all are cordially invited to join together with friends and neighbors in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.