Voices Carry Christmas to Harper

The voices of the Mount Pleasant Concert Chorale and Iowa Wesleyan University Concert Choir brought the sounds of the season to SS Peter and Paul Historic Church in rural Harper, Sunday, December 2nd. 

Harper - The Spirit of Christmas could be heard wafting from the high ceilings of SS Peter and Paul’s Historic Church in rural Harper last Sunday, December 2, 2018. As the voices of the Mount Pleasant Concert Chorale & Iowa Wesleyan Concert Choir comingled to bring the sounds of the season to life, the local orchestra talent of members of the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra accompanied them.

            For the final vocal number, the choir sang an especially powerful number, “Glow,” which seemed to entrance the audience. As a special effect the lyrics were spoken over the orchestra, story-like, before the choir sang. “Glow,” was originally written for the World of Color Honor Choir for the World of Color – Winter Dreams show which premiered at Disney California Adventure® Park, Disneyland® Resort, Anaheim, California. Edward Esch, b.1970, wrote the text of the song.

“Softly falls the winter snow,

whispers to the sleeping world below:

“Wintertide awakes,”

morning breaks and sets the earth aglow.


In gentle tones of warmest white,

Proclaim the glory of Auroroa’s light.

Sparrow wings in a clear clean voice,

a sweet, silver carol for the season born.

Radiant wings as the skies rejoice,

Arise and illuminate the morn.


Softly falls the winter snow,

whispers to the sleeping world below:

“Glow, like the softly falling snow.”

            By the time the song was finished, the atmosphere changed so that it was almost as if there were actually snow flakes falling all around the roughly 160 guests of the annual SS Peter and Paul Christmas Concert. Even the choir recessional was elegant as the flow of the purple and white robes reflected against the pristinely preserved altars of the historic church.

            While the choir loaded their bus to head back to classes, the crowd enjoyed an intermission while the Southeast Iowa Symphony Chamber Orchestra organized themselves for the second half of the show. During this intermission, joyful chatter and laughter lifted to the rafters of SS Peter and Paul’s, but was soon silenced with a couple of claps by symphony conductor Robert McConnell.

            McConnell started by explaining how the symphony was formed a number of years ago with a double purpose. While it gives local talented musicians the opportunity to come together and share their gifts with each other, it also gives patrons the chance to enjoy that gift of music as well.

            Coming to SS. Peter and Paul’s for this annual concert has been a tradition roughly 5 years in the making. The acoustics of the church was the first draw, but the warm reception the musicians are given is the real reason they return each year.

            Before each set of music, McConnell would explain the background of the pieces and introduce the soloing musicians in each one. The “Sonata for Trumpet and String Orchestra in D major” included a part for a trumpet solo, which was played by Don Hughes. Later, McConnell introduced flutist Karen Aoki, and shared the story of her audition.

            When Aoki was growing up, she was exposed to music through some of the finest education programs and camps available. However, she developed pain in her wrists, and had to put down the flute for about 10 years, until she heard the SEISO play. McConnell shared what Aoki had told him during her audition about her hiatus from music.


For the rest of this story, please check out this week's issue of the Keota Eagle.