AVON LAKE — Nearly 175 voices will sing Sunday to celebrate 200 years of Avon Lake history.
Choir members from five local churches and a community cultural arts center will come together in song at 3 p.m. Sunday to celebrate Avon Lake’s 200th birthday at Avon Lake High School Performing Arts Center, 175 Avon Belden Road.
The Bicentennial Community Choir Performance is free, open to the public and sponsored by Busch Funeral and Crematory Services.
The six participating choirs — Avon Lake Presbyterian; Avon Lake United Church of Christ; Christ Evangelical Lutheran; Holy Spirit; St. Joseph and TrueNorth Cultural Arts — will perform as one large choir, with musical selections spanning 200 years of liturgical music in the city. There also will be a harpist and bell choirs from three of the churches.
“It will be nondenominational, Christian-based music,” said Barb Cagley, chairperson of the city’s bicentennial committee and chairperson of the choir event. “The musical selections are from the churches’ favorites.”
The bicentennial committee, which put on the successful Bicentennial Beer Festival this past fall, came up with a choir concert event to celebrate the city’s birthday to reach a different part of the community.
“Our overarching goal was to be inclusive to all that makes up the city of Avon Lake,” Cagley said. “This one was a different demographic and people have been really positive about it.”
Mary Fancher, director of music ministry at Avon Lake United Church of Christ, is coordinating the Bicentennial Community Choir Performance, which includes nearly 175 voices. Most have been practicing weekly for the past month.
“As the choir directors met to plan this event, it was clear that they were happy to celebrate the bicentennial with the city of Avon Lake,” Fancher said. “Our faith has led us to want to work for peace and to share our God-given voices in solidarity for this concert.”
One of those choir directors is TrueNorth Cultural Arts Executive Director Richard Fortney, who said Avon Lake’s churches and schools have a rich history in the arts. The Avon Lake High School grad said his own artistic foundation was laid through his involvement with a number of local churches and their music ministries.
“Only seemed right to participate and contribute in any way we can in the bicentennial celebrations,” Fortney said.
Former Avon Lake High School choral directors William Zurkey and Ernest Hisey will also guest direct some of the choral pieces during the concert.
Guests are encouraged to come and be seated early to enjoy a video of archived community choir performances put together by ALCTV.
After the approximately hourlong concert, attendees are invited to the commons area for refreshments and to mingle and view displays of historic photos from each of the churches.
Attendees are asked to use the performing arts center entrance in the back of the school.
For more information about Avon Lake’s yearlong bicentennial celebration, including the Bicentennial Community Choir Performance, visit avonlake200.org.
Next up for Avon Lake’s lineup of birthday events is the Bicentennial Scavenger Hunt on May 5.
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