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Concert to bring joy to holiday


Terry Crull tells his students at Fort Hays State University "just wait till you sing there" as he prepares them for the annual Cathedral Concert at St. Fidelis Catholic Church.

There's nothing like it -- from the surreal acoustics to the "heavenly sound" of trumpets coming from the choir loft.

And it's something his students don't forget easily. Just ask 2009 FHSU graduate Katie Pretz. She will bring her 26-member audition choir from Abilene Middle School to perform at the 27th annual Cathedral Concert on Sunday. Performances are at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

"It's just a beautiful, beautiful space, especially acoustically, to sing in," said Pretz, who was able to conduct one of the FHSU choirs at the cathedral during her time as an FHSU student. "Hearing the sounds that are possible in that space is amazing."

Her seventh- and eighth-grade choir is preparing four songs for their part of the performance, plus the middle-school students will join with one of Crull's choirs for a rendition of "Away in a Manger."

"It's really fun to see how far the kids can come from the beginning of the year to develop into such mature singers in such a short amount of time," Pretz said.

Her choir only will be able to stay for the 3:30 p.m. performance, so Crull, director of choral activities at FHSU, asked Crossroads, an adult chamber choir in Hays, to perform during the 6:30 p.m. performance.

"It's an honor to be invited," said Lee Fisher, one of the original members of the group that formed in 1997.

It's the first time the group will perform at the concert.

The theme for both performances will be based on the many "joys of Christmas," including the joy of Mary, the shepherds, the manger, children, friends and family.

"The theme, when we heard it ... it just kind of opened up anything," said Regi Wieland, director of Crossroads. "We try to pick songs that fit the group really well and (have) a variety of styles."

For this concert, that includes a traditional rendition of "Silent Night," along with an upbeat gospel song and "one in between," Wieland said.

During both performances, the Fort Hays Singers and Concert Choir from FHSU will sing, as well as the community choir Smoky Hill Chorale and the Hays High Chamber Singers. As always, Crull said, the audience will be invited to join in on familiar Christmas carols throughout the program.

The concerts are free, but seating fills up quickly, Crull said.