Sun Lakes Chorale Holiday Concert a Sell-Out

Yvonne Orlich

Last-minute changes in the days leading up to a performance, in not only the program but in our leadership, and a number of last-minute absences of singers due to illness sent a wave of anxiety through the Chorale. But because we are blessed to have an amazing group of musical geniuses in our midst, we pulled off a sell-out concert. Based on the reaction (and number of attendees) of the audience, the anxiety was contained within the Chorale itself and not projected into the audience. Due to illness, our trusted and talented director Cris Temple Evans was unable to direct the concert. While we know how disappointed Cris must have been, we are sure she knew that we “felt her pain” and that we would put our best foot forward to make her proud—even in her absence.

The Chorale was directed by Cris’ husband Bart Evans, a most talented musician and director in his own right. Our accompanist Caroline Brown also put on her director’s cap as she switched between being our valued accompanist on both the organ and piano to director. BJ Van Noy, as always, was steady as a rock with her percussion/instrumental accompaniment. We and the audience were graced with the masterful playing of oboist Mark Goldstick and flautist Vicki Deken for two numbers. These two musicians lift our well-practiced numbers to a higher level of excellence.

A few new soloists were introduced to the audience this year. Husband and wife Roger and Kathleen Sasnett soloed in the performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Not new to being a Chorale soloist, Bart Evans gave a rousing rendition of the famed spiritual “Glory Glory Glory,” and Sally Jo Holberg soloed in “Grown-Up Christmas List.” Jodi Mattson, who is familiar to members of Sun Lakes United Methodist Church but new to us in the Chorale, graced us with a beautiful solo to close out the concert in “Candlelight Carol.”

We also had the usual audience sing-along with “Jingle Bells,” changed up to fit the Arizona climate at Christmas, and the traditional “White Christmas” and our recessional singing of “Shalom.” The audience was, as always, very receptive and appreciative of all the performances, and we, the singers, breathed a collective sigh of relief.

We did it, Cris! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. Thanks, too, to BJ, Caroline, Bart, and MJ (who does our programs, practice CDs, and so much more). We’ll take a few weeks off for the holiday season, regroup, and come back in January to start prepping for the Spring Concert. On behalf of the Chorale, I extend get well wishes to Cris and all those singers who had to stay home. And a huge thank you to the Sun Lakes community for their amazing support. May you all enjoy a very happy holiday season and a safe, healthy, and happy new year.