Your Thanks: Friends of Music at Guilford

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Editor of the Reformer,

On behalf of the trustees of Friends of Music at Guilford, now in its 54th Anniversary Season, I extend sincere thanks to everyone who attended and otherwise supported our holiday programs in December. Door donations at the 49th Community Messiah Sing on Saturday, Dec. 7, and the 46th Christmas at Christ Church celebration on Dec. 14, allow us to contribute to the support of two other local nonprofit organizations.

Set at Centre Congregational Church since 1980, the Messiah Sing was rededicated in 2007 as a benefit for the homeless at holiday time. This year's door donations of $1,878 bring the grand total passed along to Groundworks Collaborative and its predecessor agencies to just under $24,500! Our related collection of goods for the cause at the Sing supplemented the cash contribution with several bags of groceries, winter outerwear, and toys from attendees, as it does each year.

The soloists and conductor for this community-based event have traditionally donated their services for the fundraiser. This year we thank soprano Elizabeth Wohl, alto Julie Olsson, tenor Walter Cramer, baritone Cailin Marcel Manson, and trumpeter Joyana Damon for their generous time and talent. Manson also served as choral conductor, a role he's well known for in the Tri-State region. Kenneth Olsson, a long-time FOMAG collaborator as pianist, organist, and conductor in other settings, sat at the organ bench this season for the first time.

This year we received service trades, discounts, or cash donations from the Sing's major sponsors: Brattleboro Reformer and The Marina Restaurant. Additional support came from C&S Wholesale Grocers' Print Shop, Centre Congregational Church, and Richmond Auto Repair. We are also indebted to Vermont Public Radio and the Vermont Arts Council for helping to get the word out about both holiday programs.

Two annual memorial donations also help fund Sing expenses, including a generous gift from Friends of Music's recently established Miriam Adams Howland Memorial Fund; after her husband Dr. William S. Howland's death in the mid-1990s, Miriam made annual donations in his name to support the Sing, so we continue that tradition in the couple's memory. The second donation is in memory of Sing enthusiast Alan Dann by his wife Deirdre Donaldson.

Friends of Music is deeply grateful for performer, attendee, and sponsor generosity in making the Messiah Sing once again a great community event!

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The following weekend, icy weather cancelled the first of our two scheduled performances of the 47th annual Christmas at Christ Church in that historic building on Route 5. The "Olde New England Christmas" celebration on Saturday featured the Guilford Chamber Singers, conducted by Tom Baehr, performing carols set mostly by composers from the late 18th and early 19th century. Amy Cann led a quartet of Guilford Chamber Players in instrumental interludes from related sources.

Don McLean's reading for the occasion was "Christmas Jenny," a story by noted author Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852-1930), who lived in Brattleboro in the 1860s. By tradition, a few carols sung by everyone ended the program.

These annual Christmas concerts are also offered free of charge, with door donations shared equally by Friends of Music and the Christ Church Society for preservation and maintenance of the building. A nearly full house for our sole performance made it possible to donate $463.50 to support the church. Our heartfelt thanks go to performers and audiences alike for making this year's program a wonderful celebration of the season.

Finally, we wish everyone in the broader Tri-State community a 2020 blessed with peace, prosperity, and wonderful music.

Joy Wallens-Penford, administrative director

Friends of Music at Guilford

Jan. 17


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