New England celebrates fifth annual holiday concert

It has become a standing tradition in New England for the past four years.

Conway Heupel (Center) directs the large choir during the Christmas In New England concert in late November. (Photo by Rachel Bock/For The Herald)

By RACHEL BOCK
For The Herald

Christmas came early in New England, as a talented group of artists performed Christmas in New England V which took place Nov. 18, 19 and 20 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in New England.

Christmas in New England is a musical show that started roughly 18 years ago as an idea by a Dickinson music teacher, Ron Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who directed other musical shows in New England over the years, noticed the phenomenal talent in New England and the surrounding communities. The idea of Christmas in New England was born and the event has taken place every three years, with the exception of a performance during New England’s 125th celebration.

The musical event is organized by a group called FACE of New England, and this year marks the fifth Christmas in New England that the group has hosted.

This year’s performance displayed the talents of over 70 performers from New England and five other surrounding communities. The musical group performed a variety of 24 Christmas musical arrangements featuring a full choir, along with small ensemble groups, and soloists. The musical event also showcased instrumental performers along with performers from the Academy of Dance in Dickinson. To make sure the event runs smoothly, over 30 members make up the Production Staff for the show.

This year, Christmas in New England V was directed by New England High School music teacher Conway Heupel, who has been involved in the choir previously. Members of this year’s choir enjoyed working with Heupel, and many of them have stated how talented of a director he is.

“We love him. He did a wonderful job. I have been in music and have sung in these kind of things for 45 years, and I would say Conway is up there with the top two directors I have ever been directed by. He was awesome to sing for,” FACE committee member Julie Opdahl said.

The planning for Christmas in New England starts in January of the performance year. A musical committee, along with the director, brainstorms ideas and together they pick out all of the music for the performance. The past five shows has been original and they never have done the same song twice in any of the five shows.

The Christmas in New England choir members started practice on Aug. 22 and practiced for three hours every Sunday to be ready for the November shows.

The almost two hour performance put spectators in the Christmas spirit and left many in awe of the musical talent that we have in the New England area.

“We are always so amazed that the New England area has such a wealth of talent. We are just farmers, secretaries, grandmas, housewives, and normal people that just like to sing,” Opdahl said. “That is the only criteria for our things is you just have to like to sing and want to have fun.”

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