As a year filled with COVID headlines draws to a close, the Richmond Community Choir brings back Christmas cheer with a holiday concert that invites listeners to “Believe.”
“Ultimately, we will have between 50 and 60 singers. Normally we have 60 to 80, but we’re happy to have that many, actually. And basically we uplift the Christmas spirit, bringing them joy, that’s pretty much our whole goal. We are delighted because this is our last Christmas concert as we are currently structured, ”said Joseph Agosta, director of the Richmond Community Choir.
The Richmond Community Choir will present the Christmas concert “Believe” at 7 pm on December 3 and 2 pm on December 5. Both shows will be presented at Richmond High School, located at 35320 Division in Richmond, in the auditorium. The shows last about an hour and a half.
Tickets are not required. Monetary donations for the benefit of the choir will be accepted at the door. Non-perishable food will also be accepted at the door and will be distributed by the Richmond Lions Club and the Richmond Food Pantry.
“Our goal, especially since this is our last official concert, is to bring them in and enjoy,” Agosta said.
Agosta said he chose to title this year’s concert “Believe” as a symbol of the holiday hope and the Christmas spirit in what has been a dark time.
“It’s been two difficult years. Sometimes all of this distraction in life takes you off course, and we want to make it clear that we have to believe, ”Agosta said.
The program will consist of 15 or 16 holiday songs. Some highlights will include an appearance by Santa Claus, solos, a song with quartet conductors, and an instrumental group that includes keyboard, flute, drums, guitar and possibly violin.
“Basically we like to keep things more traditional, and yet we still like to surprise people,” Agosta said.
Agosta volunteers with the choir, and the choir is primarily funded by sponsorships from PGS Dentistry, Richmond Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram from Dick Huvaere and First State Bank.
This concert will mark the first full holiday concert for the choir since the COVID-19 hit. Aside from a small live performance for a local TV broadcast, COVID-19 and related restrictions caused the choir to cancel their 2020 rehearsals and concerts.
However, Agosta said the choir has been part of the community for around 22 years in total. He said he selected his soloists very carefully for this year’s concert, choosing experienced singers he knew he could count on.
“In this case, part of that was, this is our last gig. I definitely wanted to focus on those who have experience and are able, as we were limited on the number of reps this year for several reasons, ”said Agosta.
The Richmond Community Choir began rehearsals for the Holiday 2021 concerts on September 20. Rehearsals were held in the Orchestra and Choir Hall of Richmond High School on Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m.
The Richmond Community Choir was born in the mid-1980s, initially as an interfaith group performing in various churches. It was reborn in 1999 under the development of Agosta, Louis Cantor and Claire Manchik. Agosta started working with the choir as an accompanist, and around 2000 became director.
The 2021 holiday concert is the last holiday concert the choir will host in its current format, Agosta said. Agosta made the difficult decision to reduce her choir participation in the future due to other commitments including conducting music and worship at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Richmond and Holy Family Parish in Memphis. He also wants to spend more time with his 11 grandchildren in Michigan and other states.
Agosta is planning a spring concert with the choir in its current format, and after that, choir events on a more intermittent basis.
“Basically, we’re going to continue as an entity in a different structure and do things in a more spontaneous way. We will continue to do things but not the way we did, ”Agosta said.
Spring concerts are scheduled for April 29 at 7 p.m. and May 1 at 2 p.m., both at Richmond High School. Rehearsals will begin February 7 at Richmond High School, and will be held regularly from 7 to 9 p.m. on Mondays.
“It will be the culmination of everything we’ve done. There will be performances of very high level, like “Africa” by Toto and “We Are the Champions”, a tribute to Queen, ”Agosta said of the spring concert.
The choir is always accepting new members, with anyone of school age or older invited to participate. The choir includes participants from Richmond and several other neighboring communities. Auditions are not required to register, and this year the registration fee will be waived, according to Agosta. He said a key requirement is the desire to sing and participate as a member of a band, regardless of previous musical knowledge or experience. Agosta is also willing to mentor and help those who are willing to put in the effort and work to improve.
The group performs a variety of musical styles and offers possibilities for solo, duo, quartet, octet, choral ensemble and other arrangements, some by audition. The choir also works with a group of instrumentalists.
More information about the concert or choir membership can be obtained by calling 810-305-1385 or 586-255-3938, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the choir online at richmondcommunitychoir.com.
Nicole Tuttle is a freelance journalist for MediaNews Group.