An extended program and a new director will highlight the 2012 Winchester Chorale Christmas concert.
Rehearsals recently began for the annual community choir Christmas concert at Central Baptist Church, under the leadership of University of Kentucky doctoral student Julian Dyson.
“It’s fun. You get to pick the music. A lot of it is the planning and the vision,” Dyson said at Monday night’s rehearsal.
His previous experience includes directing middle school and high school choirs in Huntsville, Ala., but the Winchester Chorale is his first experience directing adults.
“It’s very different working with adults,”¿Bryson said.
When the Chorale board learned that former director Amy Berryman would not be able to return for the 2012 season because of health issues, they contacted UK music professor Jeff Johnson for suggestions. Dyson heard about the job through Johnson and said it sounded like “a great fit.”
So far, Dyson said, he has enjoyed working with the Chorale, and praised the board’s efforts to make him feel welcome.
“They see things that need to be done and just do it,” Dyson said.
For the Chorale members, Dyson’s leadership has been an opportunity to learn more about music from an academic perspective, according to long-time member Ed Mesta.
“The technical aspects are a lot more challenging than what we’ve had in that past,”¿Mesta said.
As a 10-year Chorale veteran, Mesta has worked with three different directors, including founding director Gale Price, and learned something new from each one. Mesta and second-year Chorale member Linda Bridgewater said Berryman had a gift for making singers feel comfortable and enjoy the camaraderie of the choir.
Dyson, both said, is pushing the singers to test their skills and try new things.
“It keeps you on your toes,” Bridgewater said.
In 2011, Bridgewater decided to try the Chorale after performing with a community choir for a special 10-year Sept. 11 memorial service. Although she has been a member of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church choir for several years, Bridgewater said she wanted to try singing with a larger group.
“It’s just uplifting. It makes your soul feel good,” Bridgewater said.
Mesta called singing with the Chorale “therapy.”
“I’ve always enjoyed singing,” Mesta said.
For 31 years, Mesta pastored at Winchester’s First Presbyterian Church, a post that limited his opportunities to sing in a church choir.
“This gives me a chance to sing as part of a group,” Mesta said.
Selections for this year’s concert include “Old Fox Wassail,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “The Christmas Song,”¿“Still, Still, Still,” “We Three Kings”¿and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
“It’s a whole different thing,” Mesta said of this year’s choir.
The concert will be Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Central Baptist Church. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
Contact Rachel Gilliam at email@example.com.