Stambaugh Chorus wows crowd with Christmas classics


By Samantha Phillips

sphillips@vindy.com

COLUMBIANA

Ava Wilson, a Poland High School sophomore, said she was excited for everyone to come together and kick off the holiday season with the Stambaugh Chorus’ “A Classical Christmas” show Sunday night.

Christmas spirit indeed filled the air at the First Presbyterian Church on East Park Avenue, as more than a hundred guests filled the pews to hear classical and modern Christmas arrangements.

The 70-member Stambaugh Chorus performed at the venue as part of the church’s Under the Dome concert series. Wilson also performed a few Christmas songs solo during the middle of the show.

Kathryn Davis Miller served as accompanist for the chorus.

Guests walking into the hall were greeted by a huge Christmas tree adorned with gold and white decorations and festive poinsettias. Cookies and punch were offered after the performance.

The song selection was a mixture of classical music, contemporary music and songs by composer Karl Jenkins that are modern but have a classical sound.

“We enjoy that kind of music, and blended in with that are other contemporary pieces like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and some traditional Christmas carols,” said chorus treasurer David Smith.

The purely classical pieces included selections by Johann Sebastian Bach and the contemporary pieces included “Wishes and Candles” by composer Stephen Paulus. As for Christmas classics, the group performed songs such as “Ring Christmas Bells “ and “O Holy Night.”

The song Wishes and Candles is what the chorus’ director, Hae-Jong Lee, referred to as the theme for this semester of performances, said the director’s assistant Elliott Roose.

“It’s a piece about keeping the people you love close. It’s a good, inspiring piece for the focus of our semester,” he said.

Chorus president Jeff Ward said the performances keep classical music alive.

Beth Zbasnik of Minerva attended the show with her family. She said she came to support her friend Ruth Denmeade, who is an active member of the church.

It was the first time she attended a concert by the chorus, she said.

“We love Christmas music and we have heard great things about this group,” she said. “I’m excited. It could be a new tradition.”

The Stambaugh Chorus was founded in 1952 as the Youngstown Symphony Chorus, and became the Stambaugh Chorus after partnering with the Stambaugh Auditorium in 2007.

The next performance will be a holiday concert at the Stambaugh Auditorium on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Entry is free, but donations are requested at the show to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank.

The group will also perform at the Victoria House in Austintown on Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m., as part of its regular series of outreach concerts.

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