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Emmitsburg Community Chorus prepares Christmas concert

Susan Allen
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(11/15) Christmas is coming, and the Emmitsburg Community Chorus is tuning up for its annual concert on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m., at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Their performance, which will feature arrangements of familiar carols and other sacred songs, has over the decades come to unofficially mark the start of the holiday season in Emmitsburg. The concert is open to the public without charge; a free will offering will be collected during intermission.


The Emmitsburg Community Chorus will unofficially open the Christmas season in town with a Dec. 2 concert at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The chorus members are (l to r): Front Row: Shannon Boyle, Marilyn Steigerwald, Cathy Pecher, Peggy Burrier, Kay Barth, Vickie Novak and Eileen Waesche. Middle Row: Mary Barrett-Friend, Ellie Davis, Shirley Waybright, Carolyn Simpson, Kathryn Weikert, Frankie Fields and Shirley Salomon. Back Row: Tom Steigerwald, Nick Mullinix, Harry Brooks, Danny Fritz, Lisa Mattia and Arlene Hofe.

The chorus is directed by Peggy Burrier, who for twenty years has been Director of Music at Linganore United Methodist Church. She graduated from Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, WVa. with a degree in vocal music performance, and has sung with numerous choral groups in Frederick and Carroll counties. She gives private instruction in piano and voice, and teaches general music at Visitation Academy in Frederick. Accompanist Lisa Mattia is also a graduate of Shepherd College. She received master’s degrees in business administration and arts administration from Southern Methodist University, and currently oversees daily operation of Phoenix Productions as on-line general manager.

The chorus actually prepares two Christmas concerts. The second program includes some songs which are quite popular and well-known but not suited for the sacred space of the basilica. “We’ve got a unique arrangement of ‘We Three Kings’ and some novelty songs,” in the secular program, describes Burrier. They will share this program with audiences in nursing homes throughout the area, visiting St. Catherine’s Nursing Center in Emmitsburg (Dec. 4), Glade Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Walkersville (Dec. 8), Gettysburg Lutheran Home (Dec. 13), and Homewood at Crumland Farms in Frederick (Dec. 15.)

The Emmitsburg Community Chorus began as the Emmitsburg Community Choir in 1966. R. Diehl Ackerman of the Emmitsburg Presbyterian Church was the founder and first director. A member of the same church, Margaret “Peg” Franklin, is the only original chorus member who still performs with the group. “They won’t let me leave!” she says, adding that she still enjoys it. When Ackerman was transferred from the area, Sister Jane Marie Perrot, D.C., Instructor of Music at St. Joseph College, became director. In 1975, under her leadership, the chorus was invited by the Vatican to sing in Rome for the canonization ceremonies of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Although the chorus carries the name of Emmitsburg wherever it performs, almost from its inception volunteer members have also come from other towns in Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. It grew out of cooperation among the Protestant church choirs here, and quickly became a truly ecumenical organization when Sister Jane Marie volunteered to direct the fledgling choir. The Daughters of Charity have been very generous supporters of the group, providing rehearsal and concert space. The chorus also sings for the communitywide Easter sunrise service at the Grotto of Lourdes, and performs in the concert series in Emmitsburg Community Park, and at other venues. New members are welcome. Information: Shannon Boyle, (301) 447-3121 or email sboyle@doc.org.

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