Oxford Civic Chorus offers free holiday concert

Published 8:43 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

By Allison Estes

Special to The Eagle

If you’ve put up the decorations, written letters to Santa and are looking for another family-friendly event to round out your trifecta of seasonal fun, Oxford Civic Chorus’s winter concert, “Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” is just the ticket — a free ticket, as a matter of fact.

The concert takes place at 3 p.m. Dec. 12 at David H. Nutt Auditorium. Admission is free and the hour-long concert is appropriate for all ages. The program includes beautiful and unusual arrangements of several traditional Christmas carols plus some less familiar tunes, from the 16th century to gospel and contemporary, sure to leave you in good spirits as we head into the winter holidays. 

Co-directors Debra Atkinson and Creighton Holder took over artistic direction of the chorus in October. 

“For me, this has been a true labor of love,” Atkinson said. “The members of the choir have accepted us with open arms and have worked very hard to get this music ready in a very short time frame.” 

This is OCC’s first season and concert since the pandemic shut down operations in March 2020. Rehearsals began again in late August. Although the music had to come together relatively quickly, both directors and members are enthusiastic about making a comeback in the community.

“This group has tremendous energy,” Holder said. “They work hard at each rehearsal and continue to bring their all week after week. They respond to direction, they’re not afraid to ask questions, they come to rehearsal ready to learn, and they have a fantastic sense of humor. It’s a joy to make music with them!”

Oxford Civic Chorus has been around since 1998 and is now in its 24th year. The choir is always seeking new members. Adults age 18 and up are welcome to join. Fill out an application form at oxfordcivicchorus.org.

“This group is very warm and welcoming,” Atkinson said. “Everyone who is a member just loves being part of a choral ensemble and they want the group to grow and flourish.”

“Our choir is diverse,” Holder said. “We have a wide range of musical backgrounds, professions, and ages — everyone has a place here. As Debra said, new members can expect to be met with a warm welcome.”

Usually the choir performs two major concerts each year, with orchestral accompaniment. They sing at local venues such as The Blake at Oxford and the Veterans Home, and at events like the annual Christmas tree lighting on the Square. A benefit concert for Memory Makers was planned for May 2020 but had to be postponed. 

Rehearsals for the spring semester start in January. Plans for the 2022 season are still in the works, but Atkinson and Holder have hinted at some possible choices. 

“Creighton and I have joked that we share a brain when it comes to our musical tastes,” Atkinson said. “We are looking at pairing the Rutter ‘Requiem’ with Morten Lauridsen’s ‘Lux Aeterna.’ We think the messages of hope and comfort to a hurting world that each of these works deliver will be well received by the singers as well as our audience.”

“We do share a brain,” Holder said. “‘Hope’ was the word I thought of too. Art, specifically music, has the power to bring about healing. We want to challenge our singers by giving them a space to create art and express themselves. Oxford Civic Chorus has a place for everyone. Our mission statement says ‘The world is a better place when people sing together.’ Come join us!”

About Oxford Civic Chorus: Oxford Civic Chorus has been inspiring singers, enriching community and expanding musical horizons since 1998. The choir gathers for weekly rehearsals, performs two concerts a year, and is available to sing at local events. Find out more at facebook.com/oxfordcivicchorus or oxfordcivicchorus.org.