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Medina celebrates Christmas with A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols | Families

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Medina celebrates Christmas with A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
Medina celebrates Christmas with A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols


The traditional “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” will cap off the holiday season in Medina’s historic St. Mary Church (Holy Trinity Parish) on Saturday, Dec 20. A spectacular community tradition for six years, the concert brings the best loved songs of Christmas along with the splendor of the ceremony. The Festival Choir, with members from many WNY area Christian congregations, will be accompanied by pipe organ, brass, strings and fife.  Community readers offer Scripture readings of the Christmas story and related choral selections as the audience lifts their voices in the congregational singing of familiar carols.

“It’s beautiful,” said Aaron Grabowski, Music Director and Principal Organist at Holy Trinity Parish.  “Every year, people come not quite knowing what to expect. However, once they’ve experienced it, they love it. They can’t believe how beautifully inspiring it is.” 

Six years ago, Grabowski was looking for a way to put Christ back in Christmas- not just for Catholics, but for all area Christians.

“The demands of the Christmas season and daily life are many, so much so that we often neglect the true meaning of the season,” said Grabowski.  “We’re all guilty of it, myself included. So, I decided the community was ready for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. It is a beautiful way to gather and recapture the spirit of the season.”

The service only lasts about an hour and is filled with scripture readings of the Christmas story and related choral music. Each year has seen more people from the region attending, all of them leaving with a new appreciation for the beauty of the festival.

This year’s event will also see the addition of several musicians incorporated into the service. Among them will be Buffalo’s Greycliffe String Quartet under the direction of Paul-Joseph Struckmann. A native of Lockport, Struckmann is a music educator in Buffalo.

Performing in St. Mary’s will be something very special.” said Struckmann. “As someone who has grown up in a church as the son of a Lutheran minister, I can say that Lessons and Carols is one of my favorite worship services. I think of it as a respite during the busy Advent season that refocuses us on what's important about the season.”

Joining Struckmann will be the Pergaudeo Brass Quartet featuring trombonists Ric Jones and Zach Busch, both natives of Medina. Jones is a graduate of the Ithaca School of Music, is president and owner of Imagine Music Inc., and is the current music director/conductor of the Genesee Chorale. Busch is a music education major at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music and a member of the Fredonia Trombone Choir and renown Fredonia Jazz Ensemble.

With Jones and Busch will be local trumpeters Aaron and Paul Grabowski, both members of the Medina schools music program. Both are also musicians with the re-enactment fife and drums Old Fort Niagara.  The fife and drum will also be featured at this year’s event.

The 2014 Festival Choir includes members from area congregations. Singing this year are Paula Mack, Sue Slack, Nancy Kitanik, Joanne Johnson, Neil Johnson, Alec Sherman, Patricia Worrad, Dave Bogden, Ross Thompson, Rich Lovelace, Elaine Lovelace, Ann Michaud, Marlene Seielstad, Carol Hauser, Chris Thompson, Greg Madejski, Thomas Madejski , Bill Vosteen and Andrew Meier.

Music selections this year include Once in Royal David's City, Twas In the Moon of Wintertime - De Brebeuf & Middleton, Jesus Christ The Appletree - Elizabeth Poston, In Dulci Jubilo - arr. David Willcocks, Ding Dong Merrily On High - Woodward/Wood, Riu Riu Chiu - a 15th century Spanish melody, Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming - Praetorius, A Spotless Rose - Winkworth/Howells, Sussex Carol - Traditional, All Bells In Paradise - Rutter, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, Lullaby for a Sleeping Saviour - Easterling/Powell and O Come All Ye Faithful.

The pipe organ- a circa 1890 Barckhoff instrument- is featured in a prelude with a program of traditional pieces for organ by Claude D’Aquin, Max Reger and Thomas Dunhill.

Scripture readers scheduled for this years event also haile from area congregations and include Rev. Dean Willach and Karen Jones, St. Peter Lutheran, Medina; Christopher Keller, Sr., Our Lady of the Lake RC Parish, Lyndonville; Phillip Keppler, Holy Trinity RC Parish, Medina; Robert E. Waters and Georgette Stockmann, St. John Episcopal, Medina; Laura Gardner, First Presbyterian Church of Holley; Thomas Rivers, Albion Free Methodist Church; and the Rev. Daniel Fawls, pastor of Holy Trinity RC Parish, Medina.

This family friendly event is free of charge with a free will offering benefitting the Community Food Pantry at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Medina.

Organist and Director Grabowski added one final thought, "People are very much looking forward to this experience… the setting of historic St. Mary's…the warmth of strings and brass... the majesty of the pipe organ and the inspiring voices of the Festival Choir make this a Christmas event not to be missed!"

Saturday, December 20 at St. Mary RC Church, Medina. A pipe organ prelude begins at 6:30 p.m. with the Festival starting at 7:00 p.m.



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