by Rebecca Flores, Corespondent
Thursday, December 17, 1998
" Wonders of the Holidays, " this weekend's choral presentation of holiday songs by Celebration Singers, was a little different than the usual Christmas season concerts. Where one might expect an evening of traditional Christmas melodies sung in a lackluster way, the local talents that make up the members of the Celebration Singers outdid themselves and put on a truly wonderful evening of entertainment. Both traditional and exotic compositions kept the audience riveted for the entire hour-and-a-half.
Saturday evening's performance, held at the Cranford United Methodist Church, was a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season. Directed by Tom Pedas and with piano accompanist Conrad Erdt, the Celebration Singers put on a show they should be proud of. It began with Kwanza and Hanukkah songs, then moved into the more traditional Christmas carols. At the end of the first half, an awe-inspiring version of Handel's "For Unto Us A Child is Born" came right before the song "Joy" from the film "The Preachers's Wife." The singers' well-trained voices left the audience satisfied and eagerly awaiting the second half of the program during the intermission.
The second half of the show began with the Children's Chorus performing three songs. The first, a Latin song entitled "Panis Angelicus," displayed the hard work these children had put in rehearsing for the evening. The haunting and beautiful song was only outshined by the "Jingle Bell Swing," which they ended with after performing only three songs. Upbeat and catchy, the children seemed to really enjoy performing this arrangement.
The adult choir again took center stage and performed one of the highlights of the evening. "The Nutcracker Jingles," an arrangement of "Jingle Bells" to the music of the "Nutcracker Suite," was incredible. Arranged by Chuck Bridwell and directed by Kristen Dibella, the way the choir was able to conform a modern carol to the classical piece was fascinating and very well done.
The choir then performed a Nigerian carol, "Betelehemu," which was perfectly executed but seemed to lack a certain spark. After this, the adult and children's choir were joined by the audience in a rousing rendition of "Feliz Navidad," "Silver Bells" and "Let it Snow." The choirs came out into the audience and sang along while the whole auditorium seemed to erupt into song and comraderie.
After the sing-a-long, both choirs performed three more songs. One of these was the other highlight of the show an arrangement of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." With lots of ad-libbing by the children's choir and wonderful harmony from the adults, the whole audience was tapping their feet and bopping their heads.
The show was closed with an invitation to all former members to join the singers on stage and perform "Let There Be Peace on Earth." All in all, the show was the perfect length, very professionally done and really got the audience into the holiday mood.
It was a wonderful evening.
Tom Pedas, The Celebration Singers and Children's Chorus