Aiken Choral Society ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ will have secular, sacred pieces

  • Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012 10:52 p.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:18 a.m.
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner
The quartet, from left, Mar-lee Vine, Gretchen Schaffner, Natalya Lawrence and Mary Grefenstette rehearse their part at Aiken Choral Society’s rehearsal on Monday. The rehearsal is in preparation for the society’s “A Ceremony of Carols” show this weekend.
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner The quartet, from left, Mar-lee Vine, Gretchen Schaffner, Natalya Lawrence and Mary Grefenstette rehearse their part at Aiken Choral Society’s rehearsal on Monday. The rehearsal is in preparation for the society’s “A Ceremony of Carols” show this weekend.

An English composer of operas, chamber songs and folk arrangements, Benjamin Britten was born in November of 1913, according to Stanford University’s OperaGlass website.

Now, Aiken Choral Society will hold its “A Ceremony of Carols” Christmas concert on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in preparation of Britten’s 100th birthday.

“That’s the beginning theme for the concert to get us started,” said Maureen Simpson, Aiken Choral Society director. “The rest of the program is a real Christmas concert this year. We’re doing all secular and sacred pieces that are Christmas-based throughout the ceremony.”

Such songs will include traditional Christmas spirituals, a couple of Australian Colin Brumby’s Christmas songs and a John Rutter piece.

“That’s my favorite,” Lorretta Healey, publicity committee and society member, said about the Rutter song.

“It’s gorgeous,” Simpson said.

To further honor Britten, the concert’s name is even based on one of his works – “Ceremony of Carols.”

Harpist Vonda Darr will make a special appearance at the show. Currently residing in North Carolina, Darr used to play with the S.C. Philharmonic in Columbia and Augusta Symphony Orchestra, now known as Symphony Orchestra Augusta.

“(Simpson) has an amazing ability to program pieces together and have the entire program be interesting and energetic and surprising,” said Julie Westbrook, former society president and current board member. “It’s a gift.”

Simpson remembered when she was doing some programming years ago, and her mother gently had to remind her, even though they both loved classical music, she had to always remember who the audience was.

“Your mother was right,” Healey said.

Simpson said, “And I haven’t forgotten it.”

Tickets are $15 and go on sell today at the Aiken County Historical Museum, 433 Newberry St. S.W.

The concert will be held at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 100 Cornerstone Drive.

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