My singers and I spread a little Christmas cheer yesterday and the local paper had this to say:
HOPE MINISTRY BRINGS CHEER TO WESTHAMPTON
The residents of Westhampton at Mebane enjoyed Christmas festivities at their clubhouse last Sunday when professional singers from the Triad and Triangle and choir members from St. Andrews Episcopal Church of Haw River presented a program of music.
Director Richard Wall of Chapel Hill and organist at St. Andrews accompanied the singers on the piano and entertained the crowd as the master of ceremonies.
Wall’s singers presented Broadway show tunes, Christmas carols, and spirituals with the audience singing along with traditional Christmas carols.
Natalie Ling, one of the organizers of St. Andrews’ outreach ministry program with Alamance County Hope Ministry for seniors, said, “There was joy, laughter, and happiness in the true spirit of Christmas, a lovely memory for us all.”
Ling also thanked Wall for inspiring those around him, the singers, like Wall, who gave of their time, their energy, “and most of all, for the inner spirit of the joy you find in music,” said Ling.
One singer, mezzo-soprano Shannon French, drove from Fayetteville to sing at St. Andrews and then at Westhampton. Singing of love lost, “But Not for Me,” by Gershwin, she delighted everyone with her performance. French sings with Long Leaf Opera of Chapel Hill.
The story that tugged at everyone’s hearts came after Nicole Graziano of Mebane sang, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Two Christmases ago, Graziano was terminal, and the doctors said she would never make it through Christmas. The Make-A-Wish Foundation had granted her wish: Graziano got to be on Broadway for real for one day. Two days later, Duke called her and said, “Come. There are two lungs for you.” After the lung transplants, today Graziano is fine, studying online with a major in music theater at Broward College in Florida. Recently, she performed for North Bend Productions. Graziano studies voice with Wall.
Tenor John Cashwell sang Romberg's “Serenade” and with soprano Janie Imperial a duet about sweethearts. Wall told the audience, “It doesn’t get any better than this. Then it did.”
Bass Baritone Jim Burnette sang “Without a Song,” taking the audience back to memories of life when a song made the difference in living life well.
Imperial’s rendition of “All the Things You Are ” tapped into the human spirit of longing. Smiles could be seen throughout the audience.
Tom Terry and bass baritone Arthur Johnson also were singers for the Westhampton event of a Time for Singing.
Mezzo Soprano Karen Carter sang the spiritual, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.”
After the singing of more carols, the singers concluded with a rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and everyone sang “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”
Deacon Nan Cushing of the Episcopal Church and Hope Ministry organizer welcomed everyone to a time of fellowship with punch and a table of good food prepared by members of St. Andrews Episcopal Church.
Before the presentation of music at Westhampton, Wall’s singers and choir members presented a program of music at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Haw River for the Fourth Sunday in Advent. During the worship, in place of the sermon, the singers and the choir sang selections from the Christmas portion of George F. Handel’s “Messiah.”
Solos included “Comfort Ye, My People – Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted” by John Cashwell, tenor. Bass Baritone Jim Burnette sang from the refiner’s fire biblical prophecy with “But Who May Abide The Day of His Coming?” Mezzo Soprano Karen Carter followed with “Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive” and mezzo soprano Shannon French sang “O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion.” Bass Baritone Arthur Johnson sang “The People That Walked in Darkness” and soprano Janie Imperial, “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion.” The choir concluded with the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
With music director Richard Wall, the St. Andrews choir members are Karen Carter, Patricia Hayes, Janie Imperial, and Arthur Johnson.
Vicar of St. Andrews Church is The Reverend Sam Frazier.