By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
Saturday, Dec. 7, will be a festive day at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church as the Episcopal Church Women kick off the holiday season with their annual Christmas Tea, “A Dickens Christmas.”
There will be two settings for the tea; the first is at 11 a.m. in the church parish hall and the second is at 2 p.m. (tickets required).
Beginning at 12:45 p.m. in the church worship space, following the first tea and prior to the second, the public is invited to a free concert presented by The Dickens Singers and the NightSong Trio. The Dickens Christmas Concert will be filled with your favorite Christmas tunes, sung and played by a sampling of Pagosa’s most revered musicians. This delightful Christmas concert is free and open to the public regardless of whether or not you are attending the tea.
The Dickens Singers features a quartet of vocalists who frequently sing together and enjoy donning their Dickensonian costumes every Christmas season to serenade the public and private parties. Venita Burch, soprano; Pattye Holton, alto; Perry Schjolin, tenor; and Dan Burch, bass, delight their audiences with beautiful arrangements of many favorite Christmas hymns. Their portion of this special Dickens concert will include a number of Dickens-era carols as well as other favorites that include “O Holy Night,” “Carol of the Bells” and even “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
The group will also be featured on Nov. 29 starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center Christmas tree lighting, as well as at local stores and in The Springs Resort atrium. They will also provide prelude music for the upcoming Heralds of Christmas concerts at St. Patrick’s, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
The NightSong Trio is an instrumental ensemble consisting of Jessica Peterson on flute, Heidi Tanner on violin and Sally Neel at the piano. The trio was formed in 2013 to occasionally play for church services at St. Patrick’s. They quickly discovered that they not only enjoyed playing together, but their musical association filled a particular need each felt to play the more challenging classical music. Since that time, they have been featured at special services at St. Patrick’s, such as Christmas Eve, Holy Week and Easter, as well as for solo concerts, Heralds of Christmas concerts and as guests of Sunday Night Unplugged.
The trio gets together every Thursday morning to rehearse for two and a half hours.
“This time is almost sacred to us,” said Sally Neel. “The three of us have become close friends over the years and the music we make together always gives us a special joy that cannot be replicated anywhere else.”
Their beautiful arrangements include some of your favorite Christmas carols such as “Deck the Halls,” “What Child is This,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and others. Listen carefully and you will hear the sounds of a little bird singing a verse of “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. The concert is free, though donations that will be given to local charities are welcome and encouraged.
This is the first time the two ensembles have collaborated and these musicians are looking forward to serenading their audience with their musical gifts. The concert will also include a few sing-alongs, so come prepared to start your holiday season with the glorious sounds of Christmas.