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Two Liverpool churches to stage Christmas opera

James O. Welsch, music director for Liverpool First United Methodist Church, looks at music for "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Eileen Brody, music director for St. Joseph the Worker Church. The two churches are teaming up to present the opera to the community as a gift for Advent.

James O. Welsch, music director for Liverpool First United Methodist Church, looks at music for "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Eileen Brody, music director for St. Joseph the Worker Church. The two churches are teaming up to present the opera to the community as a gift for Advent. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— Eileen Brody, director of music at St. Joseph the Worker, was intrigued by the idea.

“My choir was ready to take a step ahead,” Brody said. “I’d been with them a year and a half at that point, and they had become my group, and it was just like, ‘We’re ready for a challenge.’ And I love ‘Amahl,’ and when [Linda] suggested it, I thought this is a great marriage. In the middle of the summer, it seemed like a wonderful thing to do.”

The initial meetings between the two churches took place in August. From there, things moved quickly.

“We made the commitment Sept. 8,” Loomis said. “From there, things have had to move quickly. We built up to that with exploring and talking and thinking, ‘What if, what if,’ but that’s the day we met after church and said, ‘It’s a go.’ From that point on, that’s been the focus.”

Auditions began later that month, and both the adult and children’s choirs received the music for the opera in October. Mary Rhys was recruited to direct the children’s choir while Mary Carrow came aboard to handle choreography. Meanwhile, all leads and participants are local. Several of Welsch’s students from the Setnor School of Music are joined by musicians from Liverpool High School in the orchestra.

Everyone agreed that this has been a very successful collaboration.

“We’ve tried this before in the past with the Presbyterian church around the corner, and doing the collaborative effort and tried to engage in the conversation about similarities as opposed to differences,” Welsch said. “Not to say that it wasn’t successful, but I think this was the first time that we’ve both really been drawn into the same idea and both entities really kind of fall in love with it a little bit. It becomes about the communal process and less about the differing ideology.”

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