Emo choir starting up for Christmas season

It’s only September but the Emo Centennial Choir is ready to start gearing up for its eighth-annual Christmas concert, with rehearsals beginning this Monday (Sept. 25) at the Christian Reformed Church.
Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the first rehearsal at 7 p.m.
There is a fee of $35 to cover the cost of the music, which will be kept by each member.
Rehearsals then will run there each Monday from 7-8:30 p.m. up until the concert, which is scheduled for Dec. 11.
“It roughly works out to 10 rehearsals because we miss Thanksgiving,” conductor Renée Martin-Brown noted.
“That’s our time frame, so if people are wanting to come, they only have to make the commitment for 10 weeks,” she added. “It’s not a full year, but we will start up again in the spring if they are interested.”
The choir first began in December, 1998 to kick-off Emo’s centennial celebrations and has staged both Christmas and Easter concerts ever since.
Martin-Brown noted 10 pieces will be performed at the concert, which will tell the Christmas story.
“They are all new pieces to the choir—none that we’ve ever done in the past,” she indicated.
“There’s one called ‘Pass the Advent Light’ and it incorporates ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,’ so that’s nice to cover the Advent part of the season,” Martin-Brown added.
One piece, “The Christmas Peace Canon,” will feature a flute as part of the accompaniment while another song, called “Good Christian Men Rejoice Medley,” will highlight the male singers.
“So we always need some more males,” Martin-Brown stressed. “We usually have about 30 in the choir at Christmas time and we’re lucky to get between eight and 10 men, but it would be nice to have equal sections.”
Martin-Brown also said the pieces incorporate different levels of difficulty, but that none are incredibly difficult.
“There are some two-part pieces,” she noted. “Most are SAB [soprano/alto/bass] and there’s one that’s SATB [soprano/alto/tenor/bass].
“They’re all able to be learned in the time frame we have,” Martin-Brown continued, noting choir members don’t have to be able to read music to come out.
Although it helps to have an understand of choral music, it’s not mandatory.
Meanwhile, like last year, Martin-Brown said the choir also will record a CD of the songs.
“It was basically just a keepsake for the choir,” she explained. “But because of the response, we’ve decided to do it as a fundraiser.”
Since all the proceeds from the concert go to local charities, Martin-Brown said selling CDs would allow the choir to do some fundraising for itself to offset the cost of the music.
But unlike last year’s live recording, the choir will record the pieces in advance and have the CD available to the public on the night of the concert.
“We want to try to do it so there is no applause in the middle or sneezes or coughing or doors slamming,” Martin-Brown remarked. “We’ll have a quiet environment and the quality will be that much better.”
They had made 75 CDs—assuming the 30 choir members each might want two and to have a few extra for the public.
“We had a CD release party after the concert and had everyone come and listen to the CD,” Martin-Brown recalled. “At the end of the night, all 75 CDs were spoken for and we had a list for 10 more.”
She expects they could have sold about 100 if they had tried, but that it wasn’t their focus at that point.
“They’ll make a nice keepsake and a great Christmas present,” she added.
And since she has had members from all over the district in the past, Martin-Brown hopes to see another good group out this year.
“If you would like to be part of an upbeat group, please come out,” she enthused. “It’s an opportunity to come and share your voice, get out for the evening, and really just rejoice in singing together.”