For many longtime residents in the community, the holiday season does not officially kickoff until the Reston Chorale sings.
"Our holiday concert always seems to signify the season," said Frederick Wygal, who has served as the group’s musical director for 20 years.
About 120 members strong, the Reston Chorale has been a lyrical staple in the community almost since its founding nearly four decades ago. Robert Simon, the founder of Reston, was one of the group’s first members. And since its inception in 1967, the chorale has been drawing crowds of festive music lovers with its annual holiday concert. This year’s concert, "A Seasonal Celebration," is scheduled for two performances on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Reston Community Center (RCC) in Hunters Woods.
"It’s such a big part of Reston during the holidays. It’s a real community tradition," said Linda Ackerman, the vocal ensemble’s managing director. "Like every year, there will definitely be a few surprises this year. We just might have a special appearance from a certain ‘ho-ho-ho’ guy. One of the great things about this concert is that there is little something for everyone."
That is one of the reasons Madeline Flynn, a member since 1973, keeps lending her voice to the chorale. "The selections for this concert are so diverse and we really serve all ages," said Flynn.
After three decades with the group, Flynn says she could not imagine her life without the chorale, and could not imagine the holidays in Reston without the chorale’s annual concert. "Singing in this chorale, including practice every Tuesday night, is such a mainstay in my life. It is just a great way for me to give back to this community. We have made such a great family of friends over the years," Flynn said. "We always look forward to this concert. I think it really gets everybody in the community motivated for the holiday season. We really help spread the holiday cheer."
Like Flynn, Wygal, a 20-year veteran of the chorale, has devoted a good piece of his time to the ensemble. "It’s an absolute essential thing in my life," he said. "For me, it’s an effort to stay alive."
This year, the musical celebration will, according to organizers, feature the premiere of a new work, entitled, "Velvet Shoes" by local composer Scott Solak, "Mr. Solak has done a masterful job of putting Elinor Wylie’s lovely poem to music," Ackerman said. "When you listen to this gorgeous piece, you can close your eyes and envision walking velvet shoes through a wonderland of white snow."
In addition, the chorale will be reprising a piece, "Twas’ the Night Before Christmas: A Visit from St. Nick," that premiered at the holiday concert last year, said Wygal. Like Velvet Shoes, this performance was specially commissioned by the Reston Chorale thanks to a gift by members John and Sue Adney. "It was hugely popular. We had to bring it back," Wygal said. "The piece, a work by American composer David Ott and based on the famous Clement Clark Moore poem, was a definite crowd favorite last year."
The holiday concert will also feature something called, "The Musicological Journey through the 12 Days of Christmas," Wygal said. The piece is performed in the style of a Gregorian chant, a French Madrigal, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Sousa, among others, organizers said. "It’s just a wonderful sound," Flynn said.
The Reston Chorale is supported in part by the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Inc., the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and corporate matching grants. For more information about the chorale or its upcoming concerts and appearances, check their Web site at www.restonchorale.org.