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Choir celebrates fifth season

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Christmas is coming and so is the fifth season of the Rainy River Community Choir, which stages its first of four performances tomorrow night.

“Music and Readings for the Christmas Season” opens at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Bergland, then moves to Our Lady of the Way Church in Pinewood on Friday.

The choir comes to St. John’s Anglican Church here in Fort Frances next Thursday (Dec. 10), then finishes up at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Rainy River next Friday (Dec. 11).

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

“We have just five readings and they’re Bible readings, the traditional readings--the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, and all that stuff,” noted choir director and organizer Stephanie Hawkins.

“And it’s interspersed with music, and we have solos and instrumental music of every style imaginable,” she added.

The 32-member choir will be performing 18 different musical selections, with some sung with the audience.

“There will be some well-known carols and then they’ll be some sort of modern Christmas songs,” Hawkins said. “We’ve got a sort of blues type one, ‘Mary Rocked the Little Baby,’ [and] we’ve got spirituals like “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” and ‘Glory Manger.’

“And, of course, the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’” she remarked.

Hawkins said the choir has come a long way since it first started with about 12 female singers from different churches in Rainy River.

“We just started out as throwing a few little church choirs together, very little church choirs of about four or five people each,” she recalled. “Our first audience was only about five people.”

The first male singers didn’t join the choir until its third year.

As the group has grown, so has the complexity of the music, Hawkins said. About the only drawback with the increased size is that it makes rehearsing in the same room a bit difficult at first, she noted.

“Each section learns the part by themselves and then we start building from there,” she explained. “If everybody knows their parts fairly well, it’s easy to mesh it together.”

The choir meets for its dress rehearsal tonight at Our Lady of Good Counsel, which CBC Radio will record.

“I think they’re recording the whole thing and they just might play excerpts of it on the radio,” Hawkins said. “Of course, you never know. On those Christmas Day and Boxing Day [broadcasts], they might play it in its entirety.”

After its set of Christmas performances, the choir will get to sit back and relax--but only for a little while.

“I’d like to start back in mid-January again,” Hawkins said. “I have an exciting spring program planned.”

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