Choral Society to hold 60th annual Christmas concert

MANISTEE — The Manistee Choral Society is set to perform its 60th annual Christmas Concert.

The Victorian Christmas Concert will include carols and other songs of the season performed by the 42 voice choir. Director Carol Voigts conducts the chorus while Carrie Selbee is the accompanist for the program. The choir is in preparation for a glorious program to help begin the Manistee Christmas season and the Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Weekend.

The Manistee Choral Society will perform its annual Victorian Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the First Congregational Church. (Courtesy photo)

The Manistee Choral Society will perform its annual Victorian Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the First Congregational Church. (Courtesy photo)

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the First Congregational Church, located at 412 Fourth St. in Manistee.

 The In Vogue Brass, under the direction of Joy Smith, will be joining the choir for an opening number as well as providing selections prior to the choir performance and at intermission.

The choral society has enjoyed singing together for all those 60 years. Some of the current members were in the first concert in 1958 as high school students. The founder of the group was Virginia Caro, long-time choral director of the Manistee High School vocal music program.

The Victorian concert venue was created in 1992 as a way to collaborate with the Manistee Sleighbell Weekend and was first an elaborate Victorian dinner cooked and served by the choir members as well as the concert. As the group has aged, these activities pared down to a more manageable after-concert reception of dainty Victorian finger delights, accompanied by wassail, coffee and tea.

Over the years Caro continued to direct the choir even after her retirement from teaching. Mert Youngberg assisted in the directing at times, and when Carol Voigts, one of the original singers in the Choral Society, moved back to the region, she stepped in as director.

Voigts was the director of both the White Lake Chorale and the White Lake Madrigals in Whitehall/Montague. Though she now lives again in the Muskegon area, she continues to journey up for Monday rehearsals. Smith has served as rehearsal accompanist in recent years.

The Victorian Christmas Concert originally was held at the historic Victorian-style First Congregational Church and after performing over the years at several other churches, has now returned to this venue. The stained glass windows and the acoustics of the sanctuary add to the ambiance of the event.

The Choral Society members are involved in every aspect of this gala evening, from weekly rehearsals beginning in September, to baking the Victorian cookies as well as multiple other duties involved in making this a memorable event. One of the features of the concert is the Victorian costumes that are worn by the choral members. Wassail, 19th century butter tarts, Turkish Delight and many more morsels from authentic Victorian recipes add to the ambiance of the evening’s ending reception.

Tickets are available by calling (231) 723-7536 or at Goody’s Juice & Java on River Street. There is a suggested donation. There is always a sellout crowd, getting tickets in advance is encouraged. Those who are unable to pick up their tickets may contact Shirley Harden at (231) 723 7536 for information and to purchase tickets.

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