Choral group delivers inspirational performance in Shamokin
SHAMOKIN - "Hearing those voices may be the closest I come to heaven."
That was one of the many compliments overheard at Mother Cabrini Church Sunday afternoon following a performance by Baltimore, Archbishop Curley High School Schola choral group and handbell choir.
With approximately 300 people listening, harmonies from the 31-member chorus cascaded down from the choir loft.
"Today is a very special treat for all of you here today," church pastor the Rev. Martin Kobos said. "This is the group's first appearance in Shamokin and you will all truly enjoy this performance."
Led by founder and choirmaster Michael Gaffney, the students performed a variety of selections, everything from Christmas Carols like "We Three Kings" and "Go, Tell It on the Mountain," to more contemporary holiday songs like "Wassail to You" and "Somewhere in My Memory."
While the singing voices were given a rest, members of the handbell choir rang out such songs as "Good King Wenceslas" and the "Carol of the Bells," with the strongest applause coming after the performance of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah."
There was even a little fun involved in the song "Tom, Dick and Harry," written specifically for the school by British composer the late Sir Philip Ledger.
The song tells the tale of three highway robbers that terrorized a town, before one met an early demise and the others were captured, tried and hung for their crimes.
"I knew the Eucharist would not be in the Sanctuary today, so we can sing this one," Gaffney said.
At the end of the concert, the choir members came down from the loft and stood before the audience, while both congregation and choir joined together in singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Silent Night" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
Following the 90-minute concert, the audience of 300 gave a standing ovation and asked for an encore, leaving Gaffney and the choral group shuffling for a song.
They settled on the alma mater of Archbishop Curley High School, which delighted those in attendance.
Following the concert, the group heard the praise one on one from everyone at a special reception held in the church hall.
"The setting today and everyone has just been wonderful," Gaffney said. "The acoustics in the church are wonderful. Anytime they would like us back here, we will come."
Located in Northeast Baltimore City and founded in 1998, the Archbishop Curley High School Choir began with four charter members and has grown to 80. The school group has performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and with the ladies of the Concert Choir of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
Kobos thanked Knights of Columbus Council No. 458, of Shamokin, and Rita's Bakery for their help in making Sunday's concert possible.
The church will be getting a shipment of past performances on CD available for purchase at the church office in the near future.