This year’s holiday celebration is marking its fifth anniversary and the choir will, once again, be under the direction of retired Tullahoma High School music teacher Ann Baldwin.
The holiday performance – “The First Nowell = Jesus” – is the civic choir’s only performance of the year, and Baldwin and her singers have been practicing for months. Rehearsals are held every Monday evening beginning on Labor Day and continuing through the week before the performance.
Baldwin said many of the choir’s 85 members sing in their respective church choirs throughout the year. Others, she said, are professional musicians and music teachers, while some just enjoy taking part in a community Christmas celebration. The choir is a cross section of the community, and includes everyone from high school students to senior citizens.
“The members love music and they love to sing,” Baldwin said. “Sharing their talent is their gift to the community.”
Baldwin takes great care to ensure the program is fresh for the audience each season, making notes to herself throughout the year whenever she hears a new song or arrangement she feels will fit in well with the choir’s repertoire. Among the selections on this year’s set list are “What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter and Roy Ringwald’s arrangement of “The Christmas Song.”
In addition to the traditional accompaniment provided by pianist Vickie Collinsworth, along with musicians on the guitar, bass and percussion, Baldwin has added some new instruments into the mix this year, including cello, flute, clarinet, trumpet and violin. She has also invited some special guests to come share the stage. The Rigney Family, an up-and-coming bluegrass band from Normandy and soloist Steven Darden, a Tullahoma High School graduate now pursuing a career in music in Nashville.
Admission to the concert, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of Grace Baptist Church, 1901 Ovoca Road, is free, but donations are encouraged. Gifts of nonperishable food, such as canned soup, fruits and vegetables, will be distributed to area families in need through The Attic Outlet, a Grace Baptist outreach.
“Grace Baptist has made a great contribution to this project by allowing the choir to practice each week and by opening their doors to the community,” said Marilyn Morris, Lions Club chairwoman.
Monetary donations will be used to fund an array Downtown Lions Club projects. The club supports efforts to provide eyeglasses and hearing aids to the needy. The club also supports a number of nonprofit endeavors, including Horse Play, Trinity Adult Care and the Charles Morris Lions Club Educational Scholarship, to name just a few.
Baldwin said the Tullahoma Civic Choir’s annual performance gives her the opportunity to return to one of her passions.
“I love this,” she said. “That’s what I’ve missed more than anything since I retired, the performance.”
The choir director’s enthusiasm for the event has been matched by the community.
“It’s grown, both in the size of the choir and in attendance,” she said. “The last few years it’s been standing room only, so get there early so you can get a seat. If anyone’s not in the holiday spirit yet, this will get them in the spirit and they’ll love it.”
By ANDREA AGARDY, Tullahoma News Staff Writer ; Andrea Agardy can be reached by e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org.>