On Thursday, Dec. 14, the Ardenwoods Singers led a harmonious celebration of the season’s festivities, packing the dining room to capacity for a bistro-themed Christmas concert.
Led by director Shirley Morrow, the Ardenwoods Singers is a choral group made up of residents “who just love to sing and have a good time,” Shirley explained. Created in 2014, the group puts on two programs per year — one during the December holidays and the other in summer — for which they practice once a week.
For this year’s holiday event, bistro seating was set up for 80 residents to come out and enjoy the performance over a light meal of hors d’oeuvres, but the dining hall quickly filled beyond the singers’ expectations, turning this anticipated annual performance into a standing-room-only event.
“We had a trio and a quartet and, of course, all 17 of our Ardenwoods Singers,” Shirley said. “And we did a silly version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas,’ followed by an even sillier one called ‘The Twelve Days After Christmas’ about what happened to all those ridiculous gifts.
“On the first day after Christmas, my true love and I had a fight, so I chopped down the pear tree and burned it out of spite,” Shirley continued, laughing while speaking in a song-like cadence. “We’ve done it before, but everyone always has such a good time and wants us to do it again.”
Shirley, whose background is in musical education, began cooking up this year’s holiday performance shortly after the summer concert.
“We usually have what we call a ‘Back to Rehearsal Party’ and spend some time in the grill talking about what the program will be,” Shirley said. “Then we practice once a week, on Thursday afternoons, until the show, with a dress rehearsal the day before with all the musicians and other performers.”
Each show not only features the vivacious vocals of the Ardenwoods Singers, but also the talents of other residents and friends of the community — even Shakespeare himself made an appearance at December’s show. The performance also included a piece of choreography from dance instructor Kem Overby and resident Janet Mitchell; musical accompaniment from pianist Melody Cooper, trumpet player Bill Ross and drummer Joey Moore; and a dance number from the resident line-dancing club (whose members include January’s spotlighted resident Sally Farmer).
“Everyone loves these performances, in part because they’re put on by their friends and neighbors,” Shirley explained. “It’s just such a special group, and we really have a good time. I’d say we almost laugh more than we sing in rehearsals.”