Entertainment: Palm Coast Choral Arts Society, “A Christmas Story”

Singing Again

It’s been almost two years since the members of the Palm Coast-based Choral Arts Society have been able to perform together publicly. Thank-you so much COVID-19. Not. That all changes starting Friday, December 10, at 7 PM, and Sunday, December 12 at 3 PM, as the local group of vocal aficionados present, “The Sound of Christmas,” at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church located at 5400 Belle Terre Parkway in Palm Coast.
“We’re back. We’re here and we are singing,” Betty Christian, the group’s treasurer and main point of contact, told Palm Coast Magazine.
The group began rehearsals for the Christmas program in late September. That is much later than normal, Christian acknowledged. Usually, the group takes at least three full months to prepare for the holiday tradition.
The 2021 concert features a couple traditional Christmas religious songs — “Silent Night and The First Noel” — as well as a combination piece of “I Believe” and “Ava Maria.” The program also gives a nod to the holiday’s secular music with a rendition of “God Bless Us Everyone,” and “Somewhere In My Memory.” The song, “Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy,” written for the Disney celebration of Christmas is scheduled as well as a rousing rendition of the kid-pleasing, “Jiggle Bells.”
As in the past, there is no charge to attend. The CAS does ask for donations to help its yearly scholarship program. Currently, three local Palm Coast college students are receiving $500 per year for four years to attend college.
Choir members are scheduled to wear traditional performance attire: The ladies in black dresses with Christmas-themed, colorful scarves around their necks and the men in black tuxedos with red bowties.
Attendees are encourage to wear festive holiday attire, but it is not required, Christian said.
Cheryl McGregor, CAS founder in 1999 and artistic director since then, will direct the 2021 show. McGregor is a lyric soprano singer who studied voice at the American Conservatory of Music the University of Chicago. She has performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Philharmonic Pops and the Savoy Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Katya Feldman replaces Richard Butler as the choral group’s accompanist. Butler played with the group for 11 years before passing away from heart attack complications on April 19, 2021.
“We got incredibly lucky in finding Katya,” Christian said.
Feldman plays both organ and piano. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance and education at the Belarus Music Conservatory in Minsk, Belarus. She was an accompanist at The School for Strings in New York. Previously, Feldman performed with the Minsk Chamber Orchestra at the Moscow (Russia) Conservatory Rachmaninoff Hall and the Minsk Philharmonic Hall. She teaches piano in the Palm Coast/Flagler Beach area and regularly plays for services at the Hammock Community Church in Palm Coast.
Also, longtime tenor Roger Lacallade will be sorely missed in this first performance without him, Christian said. Lacallade recently died from lung issues. He had a master’s degree in piano performance from The Cincinnati Conservatory at the University of Cincinnati and taught music and piano.
Due to COVID concerns, there will not be a reception following the performance. Attendees are not required to wear masks even though it is suggested. The event will be socially distanced according to local guidelines.
“I suggest you come early if you want to get a good seat,” Christian said.
You can learn more about the Choral Arts Society online at www.casfl.org.

Road Trip

For those of you who cannot get enough of the sentimental yet fun-filled antics of “A Christmas Story,” the Limelight Theatre, less than an hour’s drive north to St. Augustine, can help you enjoy yet another serving of this holiday classic.
Beginning with its preview night on Thursday, Dec. 2, the play is scheduled to be performed nightly from Friday, Dec. 3 through Thursday, Dec. 23 on the Matuza Mainstay Theatre at 11 Old Mission Avenue in St, Augustine.
All the usual suspects are included in this local production. Ralphie Parker, played by Rumi Rubino, will repeatedly be told – even by a mall Santa Claus – in the show that, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” during his quest to convince his parents that the Red Ryder BB Gun is the perfect gift for Christmas. Scut Farkas, played by Michael Cirucci, is still a bully who in the end gets what’s coming to him for harassing Ralphie. The tongue of Flick, played by James Drake, is indeed set to get stuck on the ice cold flag pole. Ralphie’s mother, played by Sara Forte, probably won’t get a hot meal in this interpretation of the holiday classic.
According to its website, attendees are required to wear masks at all times while in the Limelight Theatre. Those experiencing fever, shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea are asked to not attend performances,
More information regarding Limelight Theatre and ticket pricing is available at www.limelight-theatre.org.
—Amy Armstrong