2008-11-13 / Local & State

Mercersburg Area Community Chorus To Present Holiday Concerts

The Mercersburg Area Community Chorus will celebrate its 33rd year with holiday concerts December 6 and 7 at Mercersburg Academy Chapel. Performance times are 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. The 130-member chorus and full orchestra under the direction of Richard Rotz will be joined by soloists Jan Aaland, Tony Boutté and Alex Helsabek, and the Glorystar Children's Chorus. The concerts will feature Vaughan Williams' Hodie, anthems and other seasonal favorites.

Jan Aaland, soprano, has been a frequent guest artist with the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus, most recently as the soprano soloist in the 2007 Christmas concerts. She first sang with the chorus in the spring of 1986, in Mozart's "Coronation Mass" and Vaughan Williams's "Benedicite." A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Ms. Aaland is a former Metropolitan Opera Auditions Regional finalist. She has performed leading operatic roles for the Maryland Lyric Opera, Harrisburg Opera and Annapolis Opera, and as a concert soloist, has appeared with the Delaware and Lancaster symphony orchestras. Aaland is an instructor of voice at Hood College and is the soprano soloist at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Frederick. She teaches private voice lessons at her home studio in Braddock Heights, Md.

Alex Helsabeck, baritone, was a member, soloist and section leader of the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants, and is currently a member and soloist with the United States Army Chorus in Washington, D.C. He received associate, Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in music from Academia Di Vocale in Lucca, Italy. Helsabeck directs an afternoon school vocal program in Washington, D.C., known as NOTEBUSTERS, whose productions include more than 200 voices, children and adults combined; and in 1992 he was named to the list of "People Who Make a Difference" in Washington, D.C., for his charitable contributions through the arts. In recent years Alex's performances have included "A German Requiem" by Brahms, "Mass in Time of War" by Hayden, "The Seven Last Words" by Dubois, and "Messiah" by Handel. Alex has just completed his newest CD, "My Altar By The Sea," a selection of spirituals sung a cappella.

Tony Boutté, tenor, made his professional operatic debut as Orfeo in the Monteverdi Cycle, and has since appeared in a wide range of roles, including Ottavio in "Don Giovanni," and Gandhi in the Philip Glass opera "Satyagraha." As an oratorio and concert singer, Tony has performed with ensembles including Tafelmusik, Washington Bach Consort, New York Collegium and Boston Baroque. He regularly performs and records with Brandywine Baroque, and his festival appearances include Salzburg, Aspen, Bard and the Versailles Autumn Festival. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in December 2006. Tony graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a bachelor's degree in voice and tuba, and went on to receive a master's degree and performance certificate from Eastman School of Music. Tony is currently on the voice faculty of Towson University in Baltimore, Md.

The Glorystar Children's Chorus is a multi-cultural and multi-racial children's chorus based in Potomac, Md. Founded in 1996 by Enchin Chen and music director Cherie Jeng, Glorystar has grown to include more than 130 choristers aged 5 to 17. In its short history, Glorystar has been recognized for its high standards and excellence. In May 1996, Glorystar was featured in an educational program "How to Song", produced for the Public Broadcast System. In addition to its annual concerts, the chorus performed at the White House in 1997 and 1998, and won first place in the community division in the Third Annual Building Hope with Songs of Hope Choral Competition. Glorystar has also performed at the Pacific International Children's Choir Festival in Eugene, Ore.; the prestigious Tuscany International Children's Chorus Festival in Florence, Italy; and the Vermont International Choir Festival in 2004.

Founded in 1975, the Mercersburg Community Chorus performs two concert series each year, in April and December. Admission to the chorus' concerts is free; however, a freewill offering will be taken. Seating at the Mercersburg Academy Chapel is limited and there are no reserved seats; therefore, early arrival is recommended. For more information about the chorus' performances and recordings, call 717-328-2324.

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