MOUNT MORRIS – The public is invited to a free community Christmas concert that will celebrate the holidays and support local food pantries. The Winter Rose, by Joseph and Pamela Martin, will be presented Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m., at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 308 East Brayton Road in Mount Morris.
Since its inception in 2004, the concert has been offered free to the public, with monetary donations given to local charities. For the twelfth year, the beneficiaries will be food pantries Loaves and Fish in Mt. Morris and Life-Line in Oregon, which have each received, on average, about $500 each year since 2010.
Musicians from communities throughout northwest Illinois, including Ashton, Byron, Davis Junction, Dixon, Forreston, Freeport, Leaf River, Mount Morris, Oregon, Polo, Rochelle, Rockford and Winnebago, have gathered weekly since mid-October to rehearse for the single annual performance. For many, it’s become a Christmas tradition – a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ while benefitting needy people in local communities.
The public is encouraged to arrive by 2:45 p.m. for pre-concert performances by Bryan Gagliano on organ, harpist Kit Reynolds, and Andy Eckardt directing a brass group. There will be a special number by violinist Jennie Saltzgiver during the intermission.
This year’s concert will be directed by Dr. Matthew Guschl. He has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Master’s degree in oboe performance and literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Guschl is the Program Coordinator at Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center.
The concert will conclude with attendees invited to join the choir to perform Handel's Hallelujah chorus, a tradition begun in 2004 that remains an annual highlight. All are invited to a reception in the Fellowship Hall of the church, following the concert.