New London Community Choir presents its holiday show on Dec. 3
● By Steven Hoffman
The thirty-five singers in the New London Community Choir have been rehearsing diligently since October for the holiday show that they will stage at Avon Grove High School at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3.
Robin Bidwell, the director of the choir, described the show as a mix of holiday favorites and Christian songs. There are vignettes interspersed throughout the show that serve to connect the tunes or to provide context or meaning to an upcoming song. This year's show has a theme of “Fun and Familiar,” and Bidwell said that the songs will undoubtedly fill audience members with Christmas cheer.
“It's a family-friendly show, and it will put you into the Christmas spirit,” Bidwell explained.
The show will begin with the choir performing a heartfelt rendition of “Welcome to Our World,” in honor of the victims of the devastating hurricanes and several shootings that have taken place across the U.S. in recent months. “Welcome to Our World” was written by Chris Rice, a popular Christian singer/songwriter.
The community choir got its start in August of 2011 as an outreach of the New London UMC with a mission to provide family-friendly musical entertainment to New London and the surrounding communities. The choir typically does two full shows a year, one during the summer and one during the holidays.
“Each show is unique,” Bidwell explained.
The shows started very small, in the loft of of the New London UMC. As the choir attracted larger crowds, the shows moved to the church's fellowship hall, and then, when the show got too big for that, they started being held at the Avon Grove High School. The choir itself has also grown, starting out with maybe 15 members, and now there are nearly 40 active singers. The choir singers come from New London, Jennersville, Oxford, Parkesburg, and other surrounding communities, including North East, Maryland.
Bidwell said that while the choir members are not professional singers, they all do love to sing and go about their performances with a very professional approach. The singers range in age from 16 to the 80s.
In addition to the two shows that they do each year, the New London Community Choir has also performed at Wilmington Blue Rocks games, singing the Nation Anthem prior to the start of the games. The choir has also performed at local craft shows, community functions, the National Day of Prayer services, and other events.
Bidwell explained that some singers participate in only the holiday show, while others might only be available for the performance each summer.
“We have a fluid group of people,” Bidwell explained. “The group is always professional and very prepared.”
In addition to the singers, another important part of each show are the vignettes. Paula Taylor takes the lead in writing the script for the vignettes, with Bidwell and other members helping to craft the stories. For the upcoming holiday show, two people have been selected to read the vignettes: the character of “Beth” is being read by Mercedes Case, and the character of “Eddie” will be read by Stewart Gant.
During this holiday season, the New London Community Choir will take its performance to the Jenner’s Pond retirement community and the Iron and Steel Museum in Coatesville. The show that will take place in the summer of 2018 will be a tribute to the 1980s.
The New London Community Choir has been building a loyal following through the years.
“We have people who’ve been to every one of our shows,” Bidwell explained.
No tickets are necessary to attend the Dec. 3 show. Videos and pictures of the choir are available on the group's Facebook page. The group is always looking for a few more singers.