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Sounds of the Season
Singing groups to present Christmas concert

What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to listen to the joyous sounds of children singing Christmas music? The Oxford Singing Children and Oxford Youth Singers choirs, featuring 105-voices, are offering just that for two performances Dec. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Covington as they present their annual Christmas in Covington choral event.

Members of the two choirs, which have been rehearsing their music since September, perform as part of the Arts Association in Newton County's concert season. The Oxford Singing Children's group contains 65 members between fourth and seventh grades, while the Oxford Youth Singers feature students from eighth to 12th grades.

Choral director for the two groups Mary Lynn Luke said that since she's been directing the group over the last four years, the older group has grown in size from 25 to just over 40 members.

"That's encouraging," said Luke, who served as choral director at Heritage High School for 17 years and is the current director of music ministry for Crossroads United Methodist Church in Conyers.

"The other thing that's really impressive is that over 15 schools are represented. It's nice to pull together a true community choir of children from at least three counties and 15 different schools. The friendships they make are also a bonus. And, we have quite a few home schoolers, so it's a good venue for that too."

The choirs will entertain audiences with lighter holiday numbers, standard Christmas carols, foreign language pieces and spirituals, as well as choral works not related to the season.

"It's a Christmas program and even though we perform at Christmas time, each choir does non-Christmas related songs because the purpose of the choir is to enrich their knowledge and experience of choral music and a variety of choral repertoire," said Luke.

Among the familiar holiday tunes that will be performed are "What Child is This?," "Do You Hear What I Hear?," "Feliz Navidad," "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "Frosty the Snowman," and "The Holiday Season." Also on the program is "Christmas in About Three Minutes," a fast-paced medley that combines about 15 Christmas songs into one three-minute melody. Audiences can also look for several carolers dressed in Dickens-era outfits singing on the front steps of the church and introducing the show.

"It's great to work with children who one of their favorite things to do is sing. Their focus and enthusiasm make this the perfect job for me," said Luke.

Arts Association program director Abigail Morgan-Coggin describes the Christmas in Covington program as lively and exuberant.

"It amazing that the fourth through seventh graders are able to have such a dynamic range in their vocal ability as well as their stage presence," she said. "The older one are very talented, too. We have a lot of return kids and they bring back their experience back to the group."

Contact Karen J. Rohr at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com

SideBar: If You Go

What: Christmas in Covington, performed by the Oxford Singing Children and Oxford Youth Singers and presented by AT&T and The Community Bank

When: 7 p.m. (doors opening at 6:30 p.m.) on Dec. 7 and 8

Where: First United Methodist Church of Covington, 1113 Conyers St. in Covington

Cost: Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for students and children. Call 770-786-8188 or visit www.newtoncountyarts.org.