What began 10 years ago with a small church choir has evolved and morphed over the past decade into a group of some 90 vocalists accompanied by a 20-member orchestra, who together will present an annual Christmas concert to the community.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Anderson County Community Choir and Orchestra will perform its 2013 show “Sounds of Christmas” on Sunday, Dec. 15 at the Palestine High School Auditorium. Because of seating, and to accommodate demand, the choir now gives two concerts each Christmas season, at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
This will be PHS sophomore Jaime Pena's second year to play the flute in the orchestra.
“I enjoy it because I get to hear the sounds of all of the instruments and voices together, which makes the perfect blend of music,” Pena said during a rehearsal on Monday.
The organization’s first public concert was on Easter in 2003 at Grace United Methodist Church, then in its former home on Kolstad Street. Over the ensuing years, as the number of performers grew, the need for larger accommodations prompted the move from the church to the Museum for East Texas Culture, and later to the Palestine Civic Center. Last year, the choir and orchestra performed in the newly completed auditorium of the Palestine High School for the first time. Rhonda Herrington has directed the choir and orchestra since the group's inception.
Sponsored and supported by Grace UMC from its beginning, the performers today represent multiple churches and organizations from across the region.
The 2013 program includes selections from the first decade of concerts, ranging from the familiar sounds of “Silent Night” to the stand-up thrill of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
“Some of the music reaches back in time to the earliest centuries of Christian observances; some is as recent as the last decade. But all embody the familiar Sounds of Christmas that will almost immediately evoke memories of Christmas past,” local historian Jack Selden said.