Christmas brings out local concerts

Published 5:15 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

Ed Rush will direct two Christmas concerts in less than a three-day span beginning Sunday evening. The music director for First Baptist Church of Demopolis will lead FBC’s Christmas Concert Sunday night at 6 p.m. before heading up the Demopolis Singers’ annual holiday effort Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Christmas Concert at First Baptist Church will feature the FBC Sanctuary Choir and an accompanying orchestra.

“We’re calling it One Incredible Night,” Rush said. “The narration is from Max Lucado’s book, One Incredible Moment. It is just about 10 different songs written for choirs.”

Email newsletter signup

The narration for the concert will be handled by Margaret Barkley, whose work with the program has impressed Rush.

“Her husband is Brooks Barkley, our interim pastor between the time Rex left and Carl Williams came. “She does a super job.”

The musical responsibilities will be handled by the FBC choir, which consists of about 30 members, and a small but capable orchestra.

“I think this is the fourth year in a row that we’ve had a small orchestra,” Rush said. “It is mostly students from the University of Alabama and a few local people.”

Musical selections will include a variety of Christmas songs such as The First Noel and Joy to the World.

The show is among the more unique Christmas Concerts Rush has directed in his 15 years with First Baptist. One Incredible Night involved more legwork and assembly than many of his previous efforts.

“In a way it is a little more difficult to put together because you have to try to find different songs and try to fit the songs to the narration rather than buying a book that is already published as a Christmas musical,” Rush said. “This is a little more work involved at the beginning anyway.”

After concluding Sunday evening’s show, Rush will then turn his attention fully to a very different concert.

The Tuesday evening show to be put on by the Demopolis Singers at the auditorium at Demopolis High School will be presented in two parts.

The first of those acts will see a recreation of a historic event just weeks before its 70th anniversary.

“The first half is a reenactment of the 1941 lighting of the National Community Christmas Tree at the White House,” Rush said.

“That was right after Pearl Harbor. There was some thought about not doing it but President Roosevelt decided that the country needed it. As it turns out, Churchill had come over to visit with Roosevelt and both men made speeches at the program.”

The Demopolis Singers will look to recreate as much of that program as possible for Tuesday’s show.

“We got the actual program from the national archives,” Rush said. “We selected all the songs from there that we could do. We’re doing most of the music that was on their program that night.”

Included in the program will be Johnny Johnston’s portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Don Whitt’s rendition of Winston Churchill’s speech from that evening.

“It will also involve the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts because they were on that program that night,” Rush said.

Rush, who enjoys history related to World War II was drawn back to the Demopolis Singers by the lure of the program.

“I directed it for 7 or 8 years and gave it up for a few years and decided to pick it back up this fall. Really, it was this program Washington that got me interested in doing it again this fall,” Rush said. “I’ve always enjoyed World War II history. I saw a book that talked about this program. I think the book was entitled In Dark Streets Shineth. In reading that book, I decided to see if I could try to find a program or anything.”

After the intermission, the Demopolis Singers will perform a number of more traditional Christmas tunes.

“After the intermission, we will do some Christmas music written for choirs like Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, I’ll Be Home for Christmas and White Christmas,” Rush said.

Admission for both the First Baptist Church concert and the Demopolis Singers show is free.