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December 05. 2013 6:14PM

Santa Fund concert set for Sunday


MANCHESTER — Four young people, two who sing and two who play the piano, will be featured in this Sunday's Santa Fund Concert, which starts at 4 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, Hanover and Union streets.

The First Congregational Church has a concert every year to benefit the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army. Admission to the concert is free and open to all.

A free-will offering to benefit the Santa Fund will be taken at the end of the program.

Minister of music Kenneth Grinnell, who selects the music, conducts both song and bell choirs, and plays the organ, is excited about the two sets of young people who will be performing.

The arrangement of the spiritual "Round the Glory Manger" includes a duet by Amelia Cote and Bridget Thornton, both junior members of the church, he said. "They are beyond outstanding," said Grinnell, who has had them in church choirs since preschool age.

He said they are also both juniors in high school. Cote is in the choir at Manchester Memorial and Thornton is in the jazz group at Manchester High School Central. Grinnell said Thornton tried out for Jazz Allstate and was the top scorer for soprano.

Selections for Advent and Christmas performed by the Chancel Choir, made up of adult and high school age singers will include: "Rejoice in the Lord, Alway," with solo trio Carol Soucy, Jeffrey Frye and David MacGregor; "And the Glory of the Lord," from "Messiah," and "Still, Still, Still," the Austrian carol.

The Sabbath Bell Choir, made up of adult ringers ringing five octaves of English handbells, will perform "I Wonder as I Wander," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and an arrangement of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Blessed Assurance."

Soprano soloists Margaret Thomas will sing "O Holy Night" and Grinnell will play several selections he described as "light and charming."

Grinnell is excited to have a pair of young pianists playing arrangements of the "Pas de Deux" and "Trepak" from the "Nutcracker Suite" by Tchaikovsky.

"Those two Nutcracker movements will bring down the house," Grinnell predicted. The young piano duo are Abigail Curtis and Valentine Schelkin.

Grinnell said Curtis began in the choir, "but as she got older, she was drawn more to the instrument side." He said she plays flute and takes piano lessons from Schelkin's mother.

"Abby's in ninth grade," he said, adding that Schelkin is also young. But he said if the duo were performing behind a screen, no one who have any idea how young they are chronologically. "They are very mature instrumentally," he said.The concert also includes carols the audience is invited to sing along with the choir and bells.

The church is handicapped accessible from the Amherst Street door. Parking is available in the Amherst Street lot. Childcare will be provided.

How to donate

Santa Fund donations can be made by completing the online form by clicking "Donate" below or send a check to:

c/o New Hampshire Union Leader
P.O. Box 9555
Manchester, NH 03108

You can also drop off the printed form in our newspaper and a donation in the Santa Fund box at the Union Leader, 100 William Loeb Drive in Manchester from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. We will also have a donation drop box at the Intown Manchester Holiday Market on Thursday, November 29 and every Thursday in December.

Share a holiday greeting

With your donation, the Union Leader will publish a short holiday message in the newspaper. Just write it up exactly as you would have it appear, printing clearly, and mail it along with your donation. If you prefer to donate online, follow the link on the page following the transaction to submit a Christmas message.

For more information, please contact Shannon Sullivan, Union Leader Community Relations Manager, at (603) 206-7833 or ssullivan@unionleader.com

The Union Leader Santa Fund is a community tradition that has supported the Salvation Army for more than 50 years. The Santa Fund was first established at the Post Office Fruit in Manchester after a chance 1959 meeting between the Salvation Army major and the then-editor of the Union Leader.

In its first year, the Santa Fund brought in $1,000 to support the Salvation Armys Christmas effort. Since then, the Santa Fund has raised nearly $6.8 million, thanks to the generosity of the community and local businesses. Santa Fund dollars continue to provide warm clothing, meals and toys during the holidays, as well as support Kids Caf, summer camps and other critical programs throughout the year. Last year's drive brought in over $240,000 thanks to the generosity of local businesses and residents, bringing the lifetime total to nearly $6.8 million.

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