Community Choir, orchestra ready for Christmas Concert

KEVIN HARVISON | Staff photoRodney "Maestro" Briggs is shown with a poster for the annual Merry Christmas Concert, featuring the McAlester Community Choir, with orchestra. This year's concert, featuring harpist Paula Compton, is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 at S. Arch Thompson Auditorium in McAlester.

This year's Merry Christmas Concert in McAlester will add a new element to the performance.

"Our big feature this year is the harpist we're bringing in," said Rodney "Maestro" Briggs, conductor for the annual event. Concert harpist Paula Compton will join the orchestra for three traditional songs — with Compton adding vocals for a song as well.

This year's Merry Christmas Concert is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, at S. Arch Thompson Auditorium in McAlester, at the corner of North Second Street and Adams Avenue. Doors will open an hour earlier, at 6 p.m., with free admission to the annual musical event.

Approximately 65 singers from the McAlester Community Choir will be onstage for the concert, joined by the 18-piece orchestra.

Songs featuring Compton on harp include "Angels' Carol," by John Rutter, and "Still, Still, Still," a German Christmas carol.

A special ensemble will also take the stage during the concert.

"We're going to have a youth ensemble on three songs," Briggs said. The youth ensemble will present songs including "O Come, O Come, Emanuel," featuring a lead guitar solo by Joey Clark. The 10-member youth ensemble, which happens to be all girls, will also present renditions of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," along with a medley of "We Three Kings" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

Other highlights are expected to include "Amen! Tell It On the Mountain," which is a blending of the traditional spirituals, "Amen" and "Go Tell It On the Mountain."

Another song will highlight the annual concert's accompanist, April Brown, who will be featured on a blending of the challenging "Le Carnival des Animaux – No. 7, Aquarium" with "O Come, O Come, Emanuel."

A number of other songs will also be performed during the concert, including the loser, "Christmas All Over the World." Briggs said the entire event will last a little over an hour.

"It's going to be a good concert," said Briggs.

The event is sponsored by the McAlester Area Arts and Humanities Council, along with The Wanda L. Bass Foundation, The Bank N.A., The Puterbaugh Foundation, The McGowan Foundation and others.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com