A holiday chorus, brass ensemble and community sing-a-long
The Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter; Lynn Davis, Tri Valley Brass; Martha Campanile, BAFFA and CSM; and Henry Finnegan, SoLI, outside Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, where they will perform on Dec. 12.


A holiday chorus, brass ensemble and community sing-a-long


After years of bouncing around ideas and finally setting a date, Patchogue Theatre executive director John Ashline’s vision will come true this holiday season. The Holiday Chorus Concert, Brass Ensemble Performance and Community Sing-a-Long, a first for the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, will take place on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. The Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter of the Congregational Church of Patchogue will be emceeing the event.

The Patchogue Theatre is requesting its audience members to bring a canned or packaged food donation to benefit the Patchogue Neighbors INN soup kitchens. Ashline said this musically oriented event was created to “sell tickets at a reasonable price while also doing something to help feed the homeless and people who can’t afford food.”

“It is truly a community event,” said Wolter. “My hope is to welcome people who may or may not have ever heard a chorus or a brass ensemble to come to an event that will put the commercialization of the holiday season into a more meaningful perspective.”

The chorus will include 120 voices from several groups: Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts, Singers of Long Island, and Choral Society of the Moriches. The Tri Valley Brass Ensemble will play the majestic sounds of the season. “Hearing 120 voices sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ with a 13-piece brass ensemble accompanying them will be stunning, amazing and beautiful,” said Wolter.

SoLI director Henry Finnegan, BAFFA and CSM choral director Martha Campanile, and Tri Valley Brass business manager and member Lynn Davis all commented that one of the most amazing parts of the concert is joining these four groups together for the first time without having played or rehearsed before the show. “From a musician’s standpoint, that is the exciting part of the night,” said Davis. All of the singers and musicians are volunteers playing to benefit the hungry.

Wolter, who worked with Ashline on the program, chose to dedicate the night to Patchogue Neighbors INN, and money raised from the event will fund a group of five soup kitchens in the greater Patchogue area. 

As the producer of the event, Wolter said the hardest part was “trying to keep the community sing-a-long component friendly to members of the community.” Instead of thinking it is highbrow music, he hopes the community will understand how music can heighten the holiday spirit, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza.  

SoLI is a local singing group in its sixth season together. Every member must audition to be a part of the group that rehearses in Sayville at St. John’s Lutheran Church. BAFFA will soon hit its 50th year as a non-auditioning community group dedicated to singing for the joy of music. CSM is in its 78th year also as a non-auditioning community singing group performing strictly the “Messiah.” The Tri Valley Brass Ensemble has been together for about two years; its members are from all over the East Coast, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rochester and Long Island.

 “It is a great opportunity for our members to play music they normally wouldn’t,” said Davis, who will be playing the mellophone, the marching version of the French horn. “We are happy to contribute to the cause.”

During the event, each group will kick off the night with their own segments. Together, they will rock the house as they surge vocally for the “Hallelujah.” A community sing-a-long will take place during the second act. The entire audience will be encouraged to sing along with the chorus for a few holiday favorites such as “Silent Night” and “Let it Snow.” Prepared lyrics will be provided.

As a new annual event, Ashline said, next year he will consider hosting the concert right after Thanksgiving, before people become busy in December; it would also serve as a kickoff to the holidays.

Tickets to the event are currently on sale at the Patchogue Theatre and range from $9 to $25. For more information or to order tickets, call the box office at 207-1313.