Choral society plans holiday concerts

Published 10:22 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

With Christmas music already beginning to play on the radio, it is important to take a moment during this month to stop and give thanks.

That moment is the goal of the 12th annual “We Gather Together: A Concert of Praise, Thanksgiving and Remembrance which will take place at First Presbyterian Church on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. The concert is one of several concerts that the Choral Society of West Georgia hosts each year.

“It has really become a community tradition and in many ways, a wonderful opening to the holiday season,” said Bettie Biggs, the artistic director for the Choral Society of West Georgia. “I started this concert 12 years ago because different area churches seemed to host community Thanksgiving services, but that seemed to be very inconsistent.”

The concert focuses on songs about giving thanks and provides an opportunity to really enjoy the time just before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I’ve always love the two hymns ‘We Gather Together’ and ‘Come Ye Thankful People, Come,’ and so using those hymns, quite frankly is the basis of the idea for the concert,” Biggs said. “I began to format the idea for a concert of praise and thanksgiving, and one thing led to the next, and it has become usually successful and usually popular with the community.”

Among the highlights of this year’s concert will be the narrative styling of Cathy Hunt, a regular performer in local productions like the Lafayette Theatre Company’s production 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee earlier this year.

“One of the objectives of the choral society is to incorporate outstanding community talent, and I think this year we have certainly done that and surpassed it in some ways because of the people that we are presenting,” Biggs said. “First of all is our narrator, Cathy Hunt who is a former teacher and now school board member and is very active in theatre and the performing arts. She was actually our narrator for the Bel Canto concert last spring.”

The musical talent of Cindy Brown, Eve McKibben, David Kocsis, Anthonty Criswell, Milly Criswell and Jean Brumbeloe are also to be featured at the concert. However, unlike previous years, Biggs will not be directing this year’s concert due to a shoulder injury, but she has full confidence in the ability of the choir’s guest conductor to ensure a fantastic performance this year.

“One of the different components of the concert this year is the guest director, and that is Lanier Motes,” Biggs said. “Lanier is the director of the fine arts center and professor of fine arts at Point University. He is a stellar pianist as well as an outstanding director.”

This year, the First Baptist Bells will also perform at the concert.

“LaGrange also has an outstanding hand bell choir that’s home base is at First Baptist Church,” Biggs said. “Sally Traylor is the director, and the hand bell choir will be performing not only in an individual capacity, a solo capacity, but in conjunction with the choral society. They will do several pieces together, and then they will be featured as our guest artist.”

The adult bell choir usually performs primarily at church services at First Baptist Church on the Square, and are excited to be able to take part in the special Thanksgiving concert.

“We do enjoy doing things outside of our normal Sunday services, and it very much so an honor to be able to perform with the choral society,” Traylor said. “They do a wonderful job every year with this Thanksgiving concert, and so we are thrilled to be able to perform with them.”

“We Gather Together” will be performed at First Presbyterian Church at 120 Broad Street on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Plum Southern and Tournesol, from any member of the choral society or at