For the past few years, the Delaware Choral Society has been exploring different Christmas offerings. They’ve interspersed readings with music, they’ve gone back to Handl’s “Messiah” and last year they tackled Bach’s “Oratorio.” This year they’re again challenging themselves by celebrating the United States’ diverse holiday traditions with carols and selections composed or arranged by Americans.


For the past few years, the Delaware Choral Society has been exploring different Christmas offerings. They’ve interspersed readings with music, they’ve gone back to Handl’s “Messiah” and last year they tackled Bach’s “Oratorio.” This year they’re again challenging themselves by celebrating the United States’ diverse holiday traditions with carols and selections composed or arranged by Americans.

“I think there are some people who would love to come hear the Messiah every year. I’m not one of those people, although I love the work,” said Kevin Thomas, music director. “There’s so much wonderful Christmas music out there.”

“An American Christmas” will be performed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at Wyoming United Methodist Church.

The program is a lighter one than last year’s holiday offering, according to Thomas. It was a bit of a challenge, however, to find traditional American Christmas carols that would be religious in tone to perform in a church.

“I put together all the ones that I could find, and since our country is a melting pot of traditions and cultures, I’ve also included some that have been included by other nations and cultures that we have adopted as our own,” he said.

The feature is “Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest,” a 30-minute work of Spanish carols adopted and celebrated in the Southwest United States.

The fascinating part, according to Thomas, is the accompaniment: harp, guitar and marimba. He filled out the arrangement with flute, oboe, organ and other percussion.

“That’s the most interesting thing about this concert is the arrangements, the accompaniments are just gorgeous,” he said.

The audience will hear old favorites such as “Little Drummer Boy” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” They’ll also hear a Jeffrey Van arrangement of “Silent Night” with simply a guitar to accompany the voices.

“I really believe that we are very lucky right now in the United States as choral singers and choral musicians because there are so many fine composers writing choral music right now. And that’s going to be displayed in this concert,” he said.

Also on display will be the group’s increased membership. Since Thomas’s first concert in 2007, the group has grown from 53 members to 81. That includes more tenors and basses. The increase in male singers means more options in terms of material, Thomas said, and also less of a disparity between them and the women.

Thomas said the gradual increase may be due to the varied programs they’ve performed in the past few years, including a pops concert last spring of movie and stage music with the Dover Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s very challenging, and I try to strike a balance between what I find interesting, No. 1, what I think will be interesting to the chorus, what I think will be interesting to our potential audience members, and what will continue in my grand scheme of plans to continue the growth and improvement of the sound of the choral society,” Thomas said.


Email Sarika Jagtiani at sarika.jagtiani@doverpost.com