Vicksburg Chamber Choir bringing back Christmas concert

Published 10:33 am Friday, October 22, 2021

After being shut down for more than a year by COVID-19, the Vicksburg Chamber Choir is returning with a Christmas present for the city.

“We have always done a very traditional Christmas carol concert for the city free of charge every year and they’ve been beautiful; with COVID that went away,” conductor Sharon Pendley said.

“We’re going to bring back this service of traditional carols for the community free of charge with decorations and pipe organ and all the bells and whistles and trappings of Christmas. It’s time to come back and this is our gift to the community, to bring Christmas back to the town.”

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The concert will be at First Presbyterian Church, Pendley said. The date is undecided. The concert will also be the last for Pendley; she is surrendering the baton after 13 years.

“It’s a sad and a happy time at the same time,” she said.

Pendley has been a member of the Chamber Choir since it began under founder Dick Brown.

“I was in the original singers,” she said. “I was a singer in the group until I became the conductor.”

And being a conductor, Pendley said, is something she was born to do.

“I make my living as an accountant but God created me a conductor so it’s a special thing,” she said. “I was trained to be a singer but I figured out early on that conducting a choir is like taking all your friends to the playground with you.

“If I’m singing, it’s like a kid throwing a ball against a wall. When I conduct it’s like bringing the whole team with me. It’s the most incredible thing you can do. It’s the most wonderful gift you can give in life and you get to do it with all your friends.”

But at some point, it’s time to let go.

“I will be 69 years old in a month and they’ve found a wonderful new young conductor to take them into the next phase,” Pendley said. “It’ll be fun maybe to go back and just be a singer.

“You get to a certain age where you just don’t have the energy that the group deserves to have so I’m glad they have found a new, young conductor that can lead them on into the future.”

Still, she said, she will miss those times when she’s working with the choir.

“There’s something about creating together with other people and choral music, in particular, is one of the few things you cannot do by yourself,” Pendley said.

“When we come together we are able to do something that none of us are able to do on our own and that generates a closeness that you have with people so I have made lifelong friends and there’s a closeness that you have.

“You don’t come together to see each other. You come together to create; that is an incredible life experience that I don’t take lightly,” she said.

Pendley said the choir has performed at many venues over the years, including bluegrass at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center and Christmas at the Old Court House Museum, “which was wonderful. I love singing at the Old Court House; it was a wonderful experience.”

She said the choir has also sung at Christ Episcopal Church, but said First Presbyterian has been the choir’s home base.

“They’ve provided us rehearsal facilities and performance facilities,” she said.

“COVID knocked out spring concert in 2019 and both concerts in 2020.”

And she’s happy to end her career at the rostrum by returning the Christmas concert.

“We do two seasons a year and we missed three seasons. I’m real excited to bring Christmas back to the community this year.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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