Wallingford and Southington choirs combine for Christmas concerts

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SOUTHINGTON — The Southington Festival Chorale and the Wallingford Chorus have joined together to put on two concerts in their respective communities, featuring many holiday classics to ring in the season. 

The first performance will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m at the First Congregational Church at 23 South Main St. in Wallingford. The second will be hosted on Sunday at 3 p.m at the First Lutheran Church at 232 Bristol St., Southington. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors, while children 12 and under get in free.

All proceeds go toward supporting the nonprofit choirs.

“How Can We Keep From Singing: A Return to Holiday Classics” is the name of the concert coming from the title of a hymn by Robert Lowry, an adaptation of which will be performed at the event. The choirs will be performing many famous holiday compositions, as well as an original arrangement by Wallingford Chorus’ Director Bryan Niedermayer. 

Organizers chose the familiar arrangements to evoke a familiar feeling of the holidays, hoping that this will mark a return to normalcy coming out of the pandemic — which has impacted both chorus groups significantly.

“We wanted to do songs that people have heard before that they understood,” said Wendy Ronitz-Baker, president of the Wallingford Chorus. “So hopefully it gives members of the audience that cozy Christmas ‘we’re kind of back to normal’ feeling. That’s what we were trying to achieve.”

Both choirs have seen a significant reduction in their membership since the pandemic, being unable to meet due to concerns over social distancing and several members getting sick. Without the members needed to put on their annual holiday concert, the presidents of both choirs coordinated to put their members together into one group — hosting one concert for the two communities.

The combined membership of both choirs is over 40 members, and has been practicing together for the performance since mid-summer.

“It’s been hard because we’ve had members that have gotten sick, so they've had to miss rehearsals. We miss them. They miss being here. We miss their voices and we just are aching to feel that normalcy again,” said Kathie Magzag, president of the Southington Festival Chorale. “I’ve been singing my whole life and not being able to do it, felt like I was missing a limb. And it’s important to share the beauty of music with the community. It’s kind of like breathing, I think we need it.”

The groups are hoping to see a large turnout, even if their venues are smaller than the years previous, with the community being able to come out again without pandemic restrictions. As nonprofits, they hope to recoup on losses from the leaner years since 2019. 

Being able to combine the two choirs proved to be its own challenge, musically, though organizers say they’re pleased with the harmony they’ve been able to find together - united in their passion for music. 

“It’s been a great experience for me. I got a chance to work with some different people and some voices I’m not usually used to. It offers you challenges to me where I’m so comfortable with the group in Southington, so adding Wallingford was just getting used to a whole new set of voices and changing musical styles because of it,” said Mattew Bartlett, director of the SFC.

“I think it’s proof of our strength that we persevered through the pandemic, that singing is important to us and we feel it’s important to our communities. There could be absolutely nobody in the audience on Saturday, and I still think that this group is gonna have a good time because the singing is what is important to us,” Baker said.


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