By Mark Hamilton
This year’s Candlelight Carols were a smashing success. The sanctuary of Willamette Christian Center, which can hold up to 1,800 audience members, was packed to the brim last Thursday for the first of three performances by the NCU Community Choir. The hour and a half program featured more than 15 songs, including a breathtaking rendition of the famous Ukrainian Bell Carol. The Community Choir received a standing ovation from the full house at the end of the evening.
For choir director and NCU music professor Melissa Stock it was an exciting but bittersweet event. This will be her last event with the Community Choir. Professor Stock will be leaving in February to start a new career in Cambodia working with women rescued from the sex trade. “It’s sad that we’re not going to experience this as a group together again, with the group that’s here and that created it”
Stock founded the Community Choir itself 10 years ago, though it was much smaller then. The first Christmas concert the Choir put on had only 14 singers, 2 pianos, and about 75 audience members. “We didn’t have enough songs,” remembers Stock. “I filled in space by calling the piano professor in and she and I did piano improvs on Christmas carol.” In contrast this most recent concert featured 130 singers, a 40 member orchestra, and an estimated 4,000 plus audience over three performances.
Stock isn’t sure what will happen to the choir after she’s gone. “It’s obviously going to go on to bigger and better and different things.” Long time choir member and NCU senior Jason Haggard isn’t worried. “Community Choir is definitely not going to fall out a window and disappear” he said, when asked what he through would happen. “We’ve become such a family and bonded together. I can’t imagine not meeting on Tuesdays.”