New Singers in Upcoming 2011 Concerts

Four new singers in St. Cecilia Chamber ChoirChristmas is over a month away, but St. Cecilia Chamber Choir’s concert dates are just around the corner. Many consider their annual holiday concert, “A Ceremony of Lessons and Carols”, the harbinger and kick-off of the Advent season. This year’s concerts are in Newcastle on Friday night, December 9, 2011 at 7:30, and at the Bowdoin Chapel in Brunswick at 3 PM on December 10, 2011.

Director Linda Blanchard is happy to introduce four fine new singers she has selected for the group, of which three are making their St. Cecilia Chamber Choir debuts.

The first is Fran Needham, an alto, who has lived in Damariscotta for fifty years. She last performed with the summer choir in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

New to the tenor section is John Cleary of Edgecomb, who sang with a Washington, DC choir previously and performed at the Chocolate Church last March as part of a fundraiser. Bass Franklin Holland moved in July to Bristol from Philadelphia, where he sang with the Orpheus Club and the Academy Chorale.

Finally, the choir applauds the return of Sarah Sproul of Newcastle, who began with the group as an eighth grader and continued faithfully throughout high school. St. Cecilia consistently has one or more talented youth singers each year, but the director believes Sarah to be the longest-performing student member ever. She currently works locally as a licensed massage therapist, and will sing soprano.

In addition to the customary seasonal readings, and familiar carols sung by both choir and audience, there will be works by contemporary composers John Rutter, David Willcocks, Eric Whitacre and Jonathan Dove and delightfully different arrangements of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and “I Saw Three Ships,” to name but a few.

Concert goers have a new option this year: the ability to order and pay for tickets on line at $15 each by visiting This will save time and the possibility of a wait in the cold on a December evening or afternoon.

The Ceremony of Carols is an excellent concert for the whole family. Each half lasts between 30 and 40 minutes, there are no long choral works, and most of the pieces are sung in English. Then there is the spectacle: the choir first singing from the back of the church, then as they process, the lighting of candles, and the choir surrounding the audience with lit candles as they sing “Silent Night” – a seasonal grand finale. And students are admitted free of charge.

The chamber choir is named after the patron saint of choral music and was formed in 1995 to promote excellence in choral singing in Mid-Coast Maine. Directed by Linda Blanchard with the assistance of accompanist Sean Fleming, the Choir specializes in sacred music of the Renaissance and English choral traditions. Members hail from communities across Mid-Coast Maine from Rockland to Dresden and are selected following an audition process.