MOUNT VERNON — Memorial Theater will resonate with sacred sounds of the season Friday and Saturday as the Knox County Cantata Choir presents the Christmas Cantata “Festival of Carols.”
Composed by Joseph M. Martin, “Festival of Carols” is a joyful celebration of seasonal music that includes many well-known hymns as well as original compositions.
Martin, a prolific composer of Christian music and a concert pianist, is a native North Carolinian and currently resides in Texas. Another of his works, “The Voices of Christmas,” was presented last year by the Knox County Cantata Choir.
Choir Director Lynn Jurkowitz said that the group was formed six years ago with 45 singers and approximately 100 area singers will take part in this year’s performances.
“There will be music for everyone,” she said, “from classical to light and there’s even a little Disney thrown in.”
The show will open with musical numbers from the Bell Girls (Erin, Megan, Leslie and Christine); the Dante Sisters (Susan Kahrl, Susan Moreland and Mary Rugola-Dye, accompanied by Jurkowitz); and a men’s ensemble quintet (Gary Campbell, Larry Hall, Jim Holmes, Randy Parsons and Denny Wiegman).
Accompanying the Cantata Choir on piano will be Jessica Overholt of Fredericktown, narration will be provided by Tim Kahrl, and dancers from The Spotlight will also be featured.
Featured soloists will include sopranos Erin Bell, Marty Bell, Debbie Reynolds-Boggs, Bobbi Maleszewski, Joanna Mickley and Mickey Parsons; and basses Mark Crippen and Denny Wiegman.
“The cantata tells the story of Jesus from the beginning to his birth,” Jurkowitz said. “We see less and less about the meaning of Christmas these days, and this is a reminder of what the season is really all about.”
Jurkowitz is a graduate of Danville High School and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Ohio University. She taught in public school systems for 30 years, including 16 years in Mount Vernon and 11 in Fredericktown, before her retirement from teaching in 1999.
“We have a real hodgepodge of members,” Jurkowitz said, “and I actually have a waiting list because we can only fit 100 singers on the stage. Many of them also sing in local church choirs, while for some it’s a once-a-year thing. Singing the Christmas Cantata fills the ‘bucket list’ for some of them.”
Performances of “Festival of Carols” will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets are available in advance at main office of First Knox Bank or from the singers of the Knox County Cantata Choir.