Two special holiday event: Verde Valley Voices Christmas Concert and Y.E.S. the ARC 35th anniversary celebration

COTTONWOOD -- The Verde Valley Voices Christmas Concert was held on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 12, at the Verde Baptist Church in Cottonwood. An estimated 1,000 people filled the beautiful auditorium and their expectations of a rousing and inspirational musical performance were nicely realized.

The chorus was accompanied, as usual, by the very talented pianist, Nancy Bright, and the Ringspirational Bell Choir augmented several of the number on the program.

The Cottonwood Community Band was on hand to greet the audience flowing into the hall with a medley of well-known Christmas tunes. The Cottonwood Band always delivers a delightful performance and they sound better than ever under the direction of the estimable Julie Smith who also plays the flute, writes songs and sings with the Verde Valley Voices.

The concert program delivered a dozen traditional Christmas songs, some lively and gay, some more thoughtful and spiritual. A medley of holiday carols was sung with the audience singing along as the lyrics were displayed on large screens at the front of the auditorium. Highlights of the program included Ave Maria, sung in Latin, and the closing selection which was the magnificent, monumental Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's The Messiah. For an encore, the group had the audience join in the beautiful hymn of hope: Let There be Peace on Earth.

It should be well known by now that the success of the Verde Valley Voices - and they are a huge success - is largely based on the leadership of Beverly Hall. Over the past several years Beverly has been brilliant in bringing such high quality performances to the Verde Valley with the volunteer, non-audition choral group. The harmonies and the interplay between the various sections of the chorus are always spectacular and moving. Thank you and Brava, Beverly Hall!

A music CD or DVD of the concert can be obtained for $10 each by calling Georgia Brown-Braithwaite at 634-7984.

The Y.E.S. The ARC Performing Arts group entertained attendees at the annual Christmas Dinner and Dance Saturday evening, Dec. 12, at the Sedona Hilton resort. The event paid tribute to the ARC's 35th anniversary in Cottonwood. After the dinner, the Performing Arts group presented a program titled, Looking Back and Moving Forward. They reprised some of the most popular and entertaining sketches from past shows. The show started with the ARC band, under the direction of Sunny Heartley, playing some blues songs to get the party rolling - and fast.

Among the special show pieces that we revisited were the Richard Fridley portrayal of The Grinch, the Solstice Blessing with Matt Quail as a soaring Eagle, and Rebecca Young swooning and swaying while Duane Moore (of the Mogollon Band) sang Walkin' After Midnight.

The ARC Chorus led the audience in a Christmas carol sing-along. The program closed with Duane Moore and Chris Gosser leading the chorus in singing You are the Wind Beneath My Wings, which was dedicated to Penny Vigil and her family, Melanie and Rebecca Young. It was a fitting tribute to Penny whose loving and caring heart gave birth to the Cottonwood ARC and to her and Melanie who keep the school growing and improving.

Director and choreographer Jennifer Schlauffer-Vircsik, and writer and costumer Ginna Buchanan-Lenenberger put their brilliant efforts on display once again. The joy that is evident in the audience is clearly matched by the joy and fun of the ARC performers.

Supervisor Chip Davis was a guest speaker after the show and the annual raffle took place before the Mogollon Band played music for dancing until midnight.

Y.E.S. The ARC also performed Dec. 19, at Mingus Union High School, in a Christmas Carol Sing-along to open the Verde Valley Concert Association Christmas Show with Merlyn Brown & Friends.

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