It was my pleasure to spend the last evening with my friends from the Congregational Church of Patchogue, Singers of Long Island, The New Inlet Chamber Orchestra and LI Against Domestic Violence as they brought forth the spirit of love and unity at The 4th Annual Holiday Concert and Community Sing Along.
This event, conceived by Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, began in 2014 as a fund raiser for LI Against Domestic Violence. Colleen Merlo, Executive Director of LIADV, spoke briefly to the crowd about the need to raise awareness at the holidays and asked us to please refer those in need to LIADV.
For the first two years this event was held at The Patchogue Theater. There, I was able to share the stage with some of LI’s best “legit” singers as part of the show. The third year brought a change of venue as the feeling was that a concert of this quality and spirit truly belonged in the historic house of worship which serves as one of the most beautiful concert spaces in our area.
Last night’s show was, I think, the best so far. The stunning building, wonderful acoustics and beauty of the holiday “greens” was the perfect setting for the soaring voices of the SoLI Choir and the exquisite playing of The New Inlet Chamber Orchestra. The church’s own gifted Music Coordinator, Craig Coyle, served as both our collaborative pianist for the evening, allowing us to “sing along” to our favorite tunes such as Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and Let It Snow, and as soloist for the rousing finale of John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over). “Imagine”, if you will, 350 audience members and the SoLI choir all singing “War is Over” as one voice. Incredible!
For two hours we set aside our differences and many “strangers” of varying faith traditions came together to share and be part of peace, joy, love and goodwill.
Rev. Wolter called it, “Finding Sanctuary in The Storm.”
“Last night, amid worldly madness, we found reason to make music and sing. Amid “Breaking News” on the nightly news, we made new news: We created peace, community and trust in a room packed with supposed strangers. We found sanctuary from suspicion and doubt. We found Christmas, Channukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and, as an orchestra member shouted out, we also found Festivus for the Rest-of-Us. We found proof that we need never let the world define us. We found a silent night, a holy night, where all was calm and all was bright. And then, hopefully, we found our way home to sleep in heavenly peace.”
– Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter
Happy Holidays, Everyone!