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Holiday show marks 85 years for Oratorio Society

The Oratorio Society of Queens is preparing for its 85th anniversary holiday concert, which will take place at Queensborough Community College in Bayside. Photo courtesy Dominick Totino Photography
TimesLedger Newspapers

In recognition of its 85th anniversary season, the Oratorio Society of Queens will present a holiday concert next month featuring traditional Christmas and Hanukkah favorites in Bayside.

The holiday concert, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. in the Queensborough Community College Performing Arts Center, will include portions of Handel’s “Messiah” and other tunes, courtesy of the more than 125-member chorus under the leadership of Artistic Director and Conductor David Close.

“As the music director, my role is not just conducting, but also guiding everyone in the right direction,” Close said. “Managing a chorus of more than 110 requires a team of people and it’s not easy to do that. It’s like moving a small platoon.”

Holiday highlights for the showcase include a medley on “Nun, Gimel, Hey and Shin,” and “Chanukah, O Chanukah” in a brand new arrangement, as well as “Ocho Kandelikas,” a Ladino favorite about the eight candles of Hanukkah celebrating hope and redemption, the Oratorio Society said.

The program also features an arrangement by Mack Wilberg of “The First Noel” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” written nearly 50 years ago to lift the country’s spirits after the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

The group will also perform the traditional holiday songs “Ma’oz Tsur,” as well as the more traditional carols “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night.”

Featured soloists performing at the holiday concert include Geraldine McMillian, soprano; Dory Schultz, tenor; Vaughn Fritts, bass-baritone; and guest artist Cantor Jerry Korobow, with the Orchestra Arts Ensemble of Queens.

Close said the group started preparing for the holiday concert in early fall, with preparations beginning as early as May, when the Oratorio Society marked its spring concert. Since then, the director said the institution has worked tirelessly to assemble a holiday concert unlike any other choral experience in Queens.

“We have committed to take our little corner of the world here in Bayside and make this music as available and accessible to a broad range of the population,” Close said. “We’re doing our best to keep the music alive.”

The Queensborough Performing Arts Center is at 222-05 56th Ave. in Bayside with free parking on the main lot next to the theater. Ticket prices at the box office are $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors and students and $10 for children under 12.

For more information, the Oratorio Society can be reached at 718-279-3006 or at queensoratorio.org.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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