12/06/04 — III Century Singers give audience gift

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III Century Singers give audience gift

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on December 6, 2004 2:09 PM

A man and his family were spending Christmas in France, and things were not going well. As they sat in a restaurant surrounded by French and Germans who also were not happy, their mood was changed by an American sailor.

The man purchased two corsages from a flower woman who was discouraged over having had no sales all day. One he pressed and placed in a letter he was writing. Another he brought to the American family's table.

"Sir, may I give this to your beautiful daughter?" he asked as he handed it to the wife.

Though the corsages had cost only one franc each, he insisted on paying the flower woman 10 times the price she asked.

A few seconds after he left, the Christmas spirit that had been missing was strongly felt, as people talked and laughed together.

The gift of one had touched many.

Fred Kelly, the director of III Century Singers, told that story to the audience at Saturday night's concert at First Baptist Church in Goldsboro. He said that the songs being presented that evening were III Century's gift to the audience.

"Hopefully, you will leave tonight feeling Christmas within you," he said.

The gift given by the singers did lift the spirits. Reverent and celebratory, nicely chosen and beautifully sung, they evoked the warmth and sentiment that should be felt during this season.

The performance opened with selections III Century has performed in the past. At times, the singers sang all together; at other times, just the men or just the women were featured. There was a bit of a cappella. And there was accompaniment by pianist Mike Nault.

Nault has long been the performance pianist for the group and has always done a good job, but this year his work was even more noticeable. Among the stand-outs were his accompaniment during Karen Patzer's solo in "The Christmas Song." The musical notes seemed to ripple quickly and with great control, thanks to Nault's talent, enhancing an already nice solo.

Other numbers in the first half included "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "The Very Best Time of Year," "Ding Dong! Merrily On High," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of The Year" and "A Carol in Winter."

Ending the first half was "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem," which included performance on the string bass by Danny Sellers. The song sounded like a spirited selection one might hear in a small church while watching singers sway and a minister sitting off to the side, tapping his fingers. The selection was deservedly well received by the audience.

After an intermission, new arrangements of familiar tunes were presented. In addition to Nault and Sellers were two other musicians: Katie Harper on flute and Carol Gray on synthesizer. The flute and synthesizer were particularly enjoyable during "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

During that number, it was impossible not to think about how well thought out and how beautifully performed the concert selections were.

While there was some secular music, most of the songs dealt with the reason for Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ.

Among the pieces were "Joy to the World," "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "Born in Bethlehem."

At the conclusion of the last song listed on the program, "Sing a Song of Christmas," which included a nice solo by Randy Prosser, the audience gave the singers a standing ovation.

The singers gave the audience an encore, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" The song was performed beautifully, leading to a strong, solid ending that drew more applause.

As a conclusion to the evening's performance, Kelly had the audience join the singers and musicians in "Silent Night."

III Century has one more performance of its annual Christmas concert scheduled.

It will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Mount Olive. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.