Augusta Choral Society performs annual Christmas Concert

After the first song, conductor Porter Stokes approached the microphone solemnly to share the wishes of the Augusta Choral Society on Saturday night.

“I was told it would be inappropriate not to say something about yesterday’s events in Connecticut,” he said.

Stokes stood in front of nearly 400 worshippers dressed in their Sunday best at St. Paul’s Church on Reynolds Street for the Choral Society’s annual Christ­mas Concert.

Referencing the school shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children, Stokes said most of the music in the concert was about another child full of love who came into the world 2,000 years ago.

“Yesterday, all those children full of love left this world,” he said. “I think we should remember that.”

The 100-person choir and orchestra performed religious holiday music from Randol Alan Bass’ Gloria to Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax. For principal cellist Ruth Berry, Bach’s Magnificat in D was the most exciting piece.

“You don’t always get to play that,” she said. “(The songs) are really interesting pieces.”

The Choral Society’s executive director, Carolyn Dolen, said the concert is always the highlight of the year.

“With 100 performers, it makes this concert something special,” she said.

The large ensemble was evident when the packed room nearly shook during the show.

Soloists Jamison Walker and Anna Steenerson were featured during In Terra Pax. Walker has performed more than 20 roles in operas and is also the vocal soloist for the U.S. Army Signal Corps band at Fort Gordon. Steenerson played Emily in the world premiere of Ned Rorem’s opera version of Our Town, according to the program.

For those in the crowd, the concert was a good way to show support for the choral society.

“The music was beautiful,” said Amy Smellac, of Evans. “It sure beats watching bad TV.”

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