Christmas cheer and singing loud for all to hear
The Hocking County Children’s Chorus have been practicing for months to prepare for what they hope will bring Christmas cheer to all, as they perform their annual Christmas concert.
On Dec. 16, beginning at 3 p.m., the chorus will perform at the First Presbyterian Church.
“Historically, our Christmas concert was held at St. John Catholic Church. Because we are a county choir, the suggestion was made to visit various churches around the community,” HCCC Director Therese Karnes explained.
Last year the chorus performed at the Church of the Nazarene and had 69 members, this year they have a total of 75 children. The group will perform a total of five times and have already had two performances, once being at the Holiday Affair hosted by the Hocking Valley Community Hospital.
In the three years that Karnes has been director, she has seen tremendous growth in the students.
“Overall it has been wonderful and amazing. The children are so eager to sing and perform and there’s so much talent. It’s truly exciting to see them come along and learn things and grasp it and they’re so proud of themselves — to see them love the arts, to see that appreciation grow,” passionately stated Karnes.
The first year Karnes stepped on as director she had about 30 kids but now has so many that she’s had to reach out for help to purchase risers so that every child can be seen while they’re performing.
Although, according to Karnes, she couldn’t do it without community support. The Logan Holl Foundation provided a grant to help purchase the risers and Citizens Bank provided a grant for a new trailer to move their equipment.
Karnes noted that Citizens Bank also helped last year with their end of the year party and offered the use of the basement of the bank to host the event.
The first year Karnes found bits and pieces of old uniforms for performances but didn’t have enough funds to purchase new or additional uniforms, so she told her children to wear light tops and dark bottoms.
Soon after, Karnes began writing grants to help with new uniforms, microphones, and staging equipment and was awarded a matching grant for only a couple thousand dollars. Although, with the price of one uniform costing a couple hundred dollars, the grant money wasn’t enough for all of the uniforms needed.
Then Kathy Frasure, a retired LHSD home economics teacher, offered to help with costumes for the play — The Wizard of Oz. Since her children were in the Wizard of Oz she thought she could be helpful with the costumes. Together, Karnes and Frasure realized they could give back to the community by paying local seamstresses to make the uniforms, while also making it cheaper in the long run.
From there, Frasure took each child’s measurements, bought all the material, made the patterns and distributed them to fellow quilting friends.
“So they all sewed the dresses and they turned them in and one by one; we paid them and they all gave us the money right back,” said Karnes.
For three years Frasure has continued to make all of the blue satin sashes that go around the dresses, the boys vests — which is close to 30 — make the covered buttons, and their bowties.
Over the past three and a half years the chorus has had $25,000 come in grants from South Central Power Round Up, Ohio Arts Council, the Columbus Foundation, and TransCanada Columbia Pipeline to be contributed toward new equipment and material for the chorus.
“We try very hard — I write a lot of grants and the idea for the grants is, I want to use them to fix assets and all of our operating expenses,” explained Karnes.
For the Christmas concert this year, Karnes has 30 children playing choir chimes, two flutists, a violinist, two children playing African Djembes and various percussion instruments.
Since the choir has grown in size, Karnes splits the chorus depending on grade levels for practices to help things run more smoothly. Each section of the choir practices once a week and they begin in early September.
Karnes added that she’s very pleased with how the children perform during practices and how they performed at the HVCH’s Holiday Affair.
The Christmas concert will have typical holiday songs, along with some new ones that she hopes folks will enjoy.
“I hope and believe that they’re going to be pleasantly surprised at the quality of sound — yes, these are little kids but this is my fourth time with a number of them and I really see their growth and there are some really talented little children with beautiful voices,” concluded Karnes.
The concert is free to the public.