The holiday spirit was in the air Friday and Saturday for the back-to-back performances of the Valley Chorus’s “Festival of Carols,” a concert held in memory of the man who founded the group 53 years ago, Art Rae.
“We lost our founder in February of this year, and it was really something I wanted to do in a special way to recognize his gift to our area of organizing this group in 1955,” said Valley Chorus Director Clara Belle DeLill, who sang under Rae’s direction as a teenager.
The 130-member chorus opened the concert with an original cantata penned by Joseph Martin, the composer of last year’s acclaimed concert “Voices of Christmas.” His cantata consisted of 20 traditional Christmas carols intertwined with new melodies and was accented by a contemporary nativity narration written by his wife Pamela and performed by retired Waverly English teacher Dan Safford.
“I loved hearing Dan Safford do the narrative because he has a way of bringing out what is in every sentence,” said DeLill, who was initially inspired by Safford’s colorful recital of Shakespeare as a senior student in his English class. “During both of the performances you could hear a pin drop when he spoke, people were so attentive to what he was saying.”(emphasis added)
In case anyone was wondering, that's my Dad.