Tahlequah Daily Press

December 26, 2013

Choir performs as gift to community

St. Bonosa director says light in eyes of singers communicates hope

By RENEE FITE
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Some may believe they’re hearing angels sing when the 25-voice St. Bonosa Choir shares the sounds of Christmas with three communities over the next few days.

The Hulbert-based choir of teen and young adult singers will give free performances of a cappella carols from around the globe and across the centuries – from Spain in the 1600s to the modern-day Caribbean.

The choir, from a Catholic parish affiliated with Our Lady of Clear Creek Abby, offers variety by singing in different languages. The vocalists make it sound easy, but they’ve worked hours to achieve correct pronunciation, said Director Maria Gerber.

This season’s program includes American and British carols, as well as pieces in Latin, Swedish and French.

“This concert is our gift from the hearts,” said Gerber.

The choir has been performing for five years, but this is the first year to reach out to a larger audience.

“There are many musically gifted people in our church,” Gerber said. “When I relocated to the area, my gifts came into place and were called upon.”

Gerber has studied instrumental and choral music all of her life.

“The choir members’ energy and their dedication really transfers into communicating hope to the listeners,” she said. “The youngest member is 12. I enjoy their willingness to pull together to produce something beautiful.”

Welsh is the toughest language to deal with

Twice a week, the choir members practice together. Several veteran women singers agree the hardest language they’ve had to adapt to is Welsh.

“The choir members say they find it intellectually stimulating to sing in various languages,” said Gerber. “Singing for an audience is all about communication; therefore, this choir performs without music.”

To memorize the carols, singers practice every day with rehearsal CDs.

“Singing without music in their hands better enables the choir to stand tall, watch the director, express how they feel about the texts, and occasionally even look out into the eyes of their listeners,” said Gerber. “For a young singer, a moment of eye contact with a supportive parent, a friend, or even the stranger can be very touching, very positive, very human. In turn, audiences enjoy seeing the choristers’ enthusiasm and their focus; they can tell that these youth have thought about what they’re singing. The light in their eyes communicates hope.”

Over the course of a few years’ learning, the singers have been able to perform more sophisticated carols, Gerber said. Although most selections are performed a cappella, a few instruments add to the flavor of carols this year – a folk guitar, recorders and small percussion.

“People comment that they think St. Bonosa Christmas Choir couldn’t possibly get any better, but every year, the higher I raise the bar, the more these musicians strive for excellence,” Gerber said.

During a concert, with a short introduction by the director, it’s not difficult to perceive the message the group is sharing, Gerber said.

“Simply put, this choir just loves to sing together in almost any language,” she said.

Its first public performance this season was Sunday, Dec. 22, at Holy Cross Catholic Church, in Wagoner.

You're Invited

Two upcoming performances of St. Bonosa Choir will be Saturday, Dec. 28, 2:15 p.m. at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, 5804 W. Monastery Road, Hulbert; and Sunday, Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m. at St. Brigid Catholic Church, 807 Crafton, Tahlequah.