GRAFTON -- The 90-member River Singers Community Chorus will hold its annual holiday concerts at the White Church in Grafton on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m.
Led by Mary Cay Brass, the River Singers is a multi-generational chorus that performs an eclectic mix of community-based music from many cultural and musical traditions.
A typical River Singers holiday concert opens with songs to celebrate the winter holidays. This year’s opener is the carol, "Pentonville," from the repertoire of 18th century West Gallery songs sung in village churches in England. The choir will also sing a contemporary version of the Hebrew song of peace, "Hineh Ma Tov," by Rich Dworsky of "Prairie Home Companion."
Brass cherishes the vibrant folk music traditions of The Balkans. These concerts feature three Macedonian songs learned last summer at the Village Harmony Music Camp in Macedonia. All three songs are accompanied a Balkan band led by Brass on accordion, Walter Slowinski on clarinet, Joe Blumenthal on bass and Julian Gerstin on percussion.
This concert will also feature the Appalachian song, "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" learned from the Sweetback Sisters.
Each season the choir hosts guest musician/teachers. This season’s guest was John Harrison of the Montpelier Gospel Choir. His own composition, "Grateful," will be led by soloists, Kathy Leo and Tom Goldschmid. The choir will also sing a version of the 1973 funk classic "Yes We Can Can," recorded by the Pointer Sisters and arranged and taught by Harrison. The gospel classic "Lily of the Valley" will feature soloist Will Danforth on lead.
Two songs from the African continent will be included -- a freedom song from Mozambique and a Rwandan spiritual featuring Antioch student Appolinaire William and accompanied by the River Singers Afro-pop band of saxophonist, Bill Ballard, guitarist Will Danforth and percussionists, Tom Goldschmid and Julian Gerstin.
Another River Singers tradition is for their concerts to serve as a benefit for some local or global organization. This concert will raise money to further musical diplomacy between the U.S. and the Republic of Macedonia by bringing three young Macedonian girls over to attend Village Harmony singing camp.
Admission is $14, $10 for seniors and students. For information, call 802-869 4000 or visit www.marycaybrass.com.