"Community Choral Christmas" is Dec. 16St. Ambrose of Woodbury hosts its second “Community Choral Christmas” on Dec. 16 at the church. The concert will feature St. Ambrose of Woodbury Combined Choir, the St. Ambrose Jubilate and Schola children’s choirs, the Woodbury High School Chamber Choir, the Con Brio Community Choir and the Lutheran Bell Choir.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The holidays are often known to bring people together, whether that’s families, friends or those you’ve lost touch with over the years.
This year will bring together another group – choirs – when St. Ambrose of Woodbury hosts its second “Community Choral Christmas” on Dec. 16 at the church.
The concert will feature the St. Ambrose of Woodbury Combined Choir, the St. Ambrose Jubilate and Schola children’s choirs, the Woodbury High School Chamber Choir, the Con Brio Community Choir and the Lutheran Bell Choir.
“I think it’s a neat opportunity to hear different groups and a lot of people making music,” said Mary Reimann, the director for the St. Ambrose choirs. “Even though we each have our own little community of music makers, we’re all part of the bigger community.”
During the concert, all five choirs will perform individually.
Additionally, audiences will be encouraged to participate in group caroling.
“We’ll pick a few joyful pieces that people can sing readily,” Reimann said.
The concert is free of charge, however audiences are asked to bring a freewill offering to be donated to the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf.
Following the concert, a reception will be held with food and beverages.
A true community choir
The first “Community Choral Christmas” was held last year at St. Ambrose when Reimann was approached by Reid Larsen, director of the Con Brio Community Choir – formerly the District 833 Community Choir – about hosting a holiday concert.
“His group was new and small and didn’t have enough repertoire to do a full concert and since we were a liturgical choir, we tend not to do a lot of concerts so we’d have the same issue – not enough repertoire.
“So, we got together and it seemed like a good fit.”
Larsen said he thought up the idea of doing a joint concert with the St. Ambrose choirs because his choir was always looking for places to perform.
“We’re always trying to find decent places to sing,” he said. “But what’s been nice about it is that it has sort of blossomed into a community event – we’re really bringing people in from across the city.
“You have a community of musicians.”
Reimann and Larsen said they had no expectations going into last year’s concert, but they were pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
“We had no idea if anyone was going to come and hear us sing besides the families of the choirs and we filled half the church,” Reimann said. “People were just in good spirits and really seemed to respond to it.”
Because of the great turnout last year, Reimann and Larsen said they decided to do another concert. However, they wanted to expand it to include more choirs.
“Whenever you bring different groups together it brings a sense of community,” Larsen said. “So, expanding seemed like a natural fit.”
Incorporating the WHS Chamber Choir seemed like a natural idea, Reimann said.
Reimann wanted to include the Woodbury Lutheran Bell Choir because she would go and see them every Christmas with her family.
“Their bell choir is really wonderful and that’s something that people don’t hear all the time,” she said. “It’s nice to have a different sound and to have a bell choir is really sort of special.”
The bell choir will accompany the Con Brio Community Choir and the St. Ambrose children’s choirs in addition to performing individually.
Celebrating through music
Since each choir will be performing separately, the concert will include a variety of different songs ranging from traditional choral music to traditional Christmas carols and some pieces that people may not be so familiar with.
“I think it’s nice to have something fresh and different,” Reimann said.
Reimann said she believes the “Community Choral Christmas” was such a success last year because it brings people together.
“So many people are struggling right now,” she said. “People are looking for things that are vocal and joyful. And this is not commercialistic at all. It’s just good fellowship.”
Larsen said he thinks holiday shows in general help lift people’s spirits because they bring back such fond memories.
“When people hear the sounds of it, it really is a sense of nostalgia,” he said. “It brings you back to a happy place.”
Reimann and Larsen said they hope to make the “Community Choral Christmas” an annual tradition in Woodbury because it brings back something that has been lost – singing as a community.
“Singing is good for the soul and I love when people can experience that – it really lifts the spirit,” Reimann said. “Singing together is an all-too-rare thing in the community nowadays.”
The “Community Choral Christmas” featuring the St. Ambrose of Woodbury Combined Choir, the St. Ambrose Jubilate and Schola children’s choirs, the Woodbury High School Chamber Choir, the Con Brio Community Choir and the Woodbury Lutheran Bell Choir will be 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at St. Ambrose of Woodbury, 4125 Woodbury Drive. Audiences are asked to bring a freewill offering for the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf.