Director Douglas Cox understands how Christmas with the Frederick Chorale has become an annual holiday tradition.
Mainly, he said, it’s about variety.
“We were always aiming to bring just a wide variety of music to the community,” he said recently about the show. “We do some of the classics, arrangements of music they would get familiar with and bring new things that they might not be familiar with.”
Cox said the nearly 50-member Frederick Chorale will be joined by a small chamber orchestra for the concert Sunday and Monday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown Frederick.
One familiar tune the audience will hear is “Oh Holy Night,” arranged for chorus by John Rutter, which Cox said they have not done during his tenure with the chorale.
“Christmastime offers so much to be done and I really wanted to do this particular arrangement because it does not require a soloist,” he said.
Rutter’s arrangement allows for “the whole soprano section to really show themselves,” Cox said.
As the relatively new assistant director, Santana Bartoldus will experience the concert for the first time from the stage. Last year before she was hired, Bartoldus sat in the audience to listen to the chorale.
This year, Bartoldus will direct “Magnificat” by Giacomo Antonio Perti. Cox said he selected the piece to specifically open the concert because he wanted to open the show with the Gospel of St. Luke at St. John’s church.
“This is often part of a Christmas vigil, so it’s intended to be concert music, it’s not intended to be a religious service,” Bartoldus said.
“The Word of God” by Roosephayne Powell and Verbyn cari factyn est (G min) by Hans Leo Hassler is from the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke.
“The Christmas story that I think most people are familiar with is from St. Luke and the Magnificat, so we just kind of follow in that vein with the Magnificat,” he said.
Cox said he is purposeful about what selections he adds to the concert.
“I like to program in such a way where the music associates with one another, from one piece to the next. That there is some continuity ... or a train of thought or a point of view that kind of pervades,” he said, noting he will always include audience favorites.
Included in the evening are three French carols, which are sung in English. He has also included a favorite, a singalong of “The Christmas Song.” Cox keeps the audience in mind because he looks forward to interacting with the community.
“It’s really become quite an event in the Frederick community,” he said.
For Linda Myers, the president of the Frederick Chorale, it’s a place where she can be with others who enjoy singing as much as she does.
“I think of the chorale as an anchor organization for adults who want to be involved in local music,” she said. “It has given me a place to continue to be involved in choral music.”
Chelsea Fairley has been a member of the chorale for four years and is in charge of fundraising. She said she found the Frederick Chorale when she was looking for a place to continue singing challenging music.
For the Christmas concert, Fairley said she enjoys the selections most.
“The diversity in our musical style is something that I really enjoy,” she said. “We don’t only do one type of music. We’re not an organization that just does strictly sacred or strictly masterworks. We do a little bit of everything.”
The concerts are free, but members of the Frederick Chorale hope people will be willing to donate to help defray some of the cost of putting on the show.
“Because we are offering our concerts for free to the community, we’re hopeful that people will feel inspired to donate to us so that we can keep bringing them this music,” Myers said.