The Rim Country’s most beautiful voices rise up in an exquisite celebration of the season this Saturday.
The much-loved Payson Choral Society Christmas tradition started with a retired concert pianist wanting to create a forum to perform for an audience in 1990.
Pianist Robert Pompeo is credited with forming the Payson Choral Society in 1990. He was the group’s first director and the society’s president was Bob Muggli.
According to the stories passed down over the years, Pompeo wanted to do just one concert for Easter 1990. But the singers — who were mostly members of church choirs in the area — implored him to do one for Christmas 1990 as well. Another spring concert followed in 1991 and a program was presented for Christmas as well. By then Pompeo’s health was failing, but he had such passion for the music and the work of the choral society, he directed the 1991 Christmas concert while connected to an IV, which he had placed in his hand so the audience couldn’t see it.
The PCS Christmas concerts have remained one of the great highlights of the holiday season in the Rim Country. It will present its 23rd Annual Christmas Concert for two performances Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Payson High School Auditorium. The programs are at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Concert tickets are $10 at the door for adults, or $8 if purchased in advance. Children and students up to age 18 are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased in advance from Choral Society members, The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, and at the library. Tickets will also be available at the door before each concert.
This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays” directed by Daria Mason with accompaniment by Victoria Harris. Expect to hear both traditional and unique Christmas songs.
There are two breakout groups performing. One is a multi-member ensemble singing a wonderful and romantic ballad, Christmas Bride, arranged by the late Ray Conniff. Members of the ensemble are Charlie Acker, Barbara Bott, Milt Bott, Rosemary Chubinski, Glenn Dekeno, Mary Ann Gardner, Dee Kelly, Tom Kelly, Stan Langham, Rick Ludwig, Dave McClary, Sandy McClary, Jackie Messick, Joe Pickens, Janice Templeton, Tom Walling and Harry Young. The other is a duet medley by Barbara Potvin and Stephanie Prest.
Chubinski was among the founding members of the Payson Choral Society and she is still singing with the group. She said when it first started there were only 24 to 28 members. Generally the concerts boast an average of 75 voices.
Mason became the PCS director in 2005, taking over for longtime leader Mari Ann Irvine. The group was directed by Michael Farthing between Pompeo and Irvine. It was through Farthing’s connections that the society was able to move from practicing in a classroom at Payson High School to the United Methodist Church.
Currently concert pianist and teacher Victoria Harris accompanies the group, along with Kelli Price. Past accompanists have included: Nora Foil, Herbert Richmann, Greg Larkins, Gail Gorry, Phyllis Papineau, Steven Bardin and Sarah Nordstrom Nelson.
Proceeds from the concerts provide musical scholarships to middle school and high school students. These are awarded each year at the spring concert. For added information call John Landino (928) 468-0023.