Saturday, December 13, 2014

Windham Chamber Singers put everyone in the holiday mood - By Michelle Libby

The holidays do not start in Windham and Raymond until after the Windham Chamber Singers An American Family Holiday concert, which took place Saturday. With two sold out shows, the chamber singers and special guests Rachel York, Ashley Liberty and Daniel Strange entertained with holiday classics, fun numbers and a story read by Channel 13s Kim Block at both the afternoon and evening concerts. Block acted as the master of ceremony. The majority of the concert was based around music from classic holiday stories. 
“I think this show is better than the Magic of Christmas,” said Carolyn Hoppe of Gray. “I love how the kids are into it. Dr. Nickerson allows them to be uninhibited.” 

The singers put a lot of work into the show each year with early morning practices and new songs to learn each year. “We’re happy to give joy to the community, and the community gives it back to us,” said chamber singer Gardner Reed.  

Strange and Liberty, who now live in Florida with their 2-year-old son Harrison, return year after year to perform for their hometown crowd, having grown up in Windham and Gray. This year the pair performed two world premiere numbers, “It Takes Time” performed with the Windham Chamber Singers and “Beneath the Star at Midnight” featuring Liberty on electric violin in the vein of Mannheim Steamroller.
“I get into the zone,” said Strange about his fingers flying over the piano keys. “I’m feeling everything you guys are feeling, all the moments.”

The audience enjoyed the concert with frequent standing ovations. 

“This is my sixth concert. What’s not to like?” asked Bill Dreyer of Windham. “I like the whole thing from the beginning to the end.”

This was York’s first trip to Maine, she told the evening audience. “It’s like a picture postcard,” said the Broadway actress who has performed in 11 shows to date. 

York entertained the audience with her versatile and powerful version of “I Will Always Love You” written by Dolly Parton. She sang it in the voices of different “divas” showing her range and talent.
Carly, Jill and Nealie Morey were on the computer to get their tickets when they first went on sale in October, scoring second row center seats. The mother and daughters had never been to the concert before but were drawn by Rachel York’s reputation. “I’m enjoying Rachel York. She’s got a lot of spunk,” Jill said. 
Windham Chamber Singers director Rick Nickerson was elated when both concerts were over. “We are hoping to get through it. That’s why we surround ourselves with professionals. This concert epitomizes to me what this community is all about,” Nickerson said. 

American Family Holiday is a concert not to be missed. Year after year the talent in Windham raises the bar and puts on a show that rivals all other holiday concerts. 

“As Kim says, ‘It’s a great way to start off the holiday season’,” Herb Hoppe of Gray said. 

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