Northwoods Notebook: Music, drama and more music this Christmas season

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by Larry Werner

The Christmas season, of course, is a busy time. There’s the shopping, the parties, the family gatherings and often travel over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.
In addition to all that, Cumberland’s arts council – Erichment Through Culture (ETC) – is offering the Community Choir Christmas Concert on Dec. 8 and a Christmas play with holiday music and Christmas cookies the following weekend.
John Westin will be directing the 52nd annual concert by a community choir of more than 60 singers. This event has rotated for years among  two Lutheran churches, St. Paul and First Lutheran, and St. Anthony’s, the Catholic church. This year, a fourth church will host the event.
Northern Lakes Community Church approached ETC with a request to be included in the rotation. So that’s where the concert will be on Dec. 8, with performances at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Two performances are necessary because too many attend for only one show. There is no fixed admission charge: The collection plate is passed for free-will offerings that are used for music scholarships.
We’re told Northern Lakes’ new event center (named the Ark) can hold about 500. So there should be plenty of room for all.
For years, the ETC board has been reluctant to do a Christmas play because we didn’t want to draw folks from the Community Choir Christmas Concert to act in a play at the same time. So we came up with a plan for a Christmas play the weekend after the concert.
Sharai Hefty, who has acted on the Cumberland Arts Center stage for years, has agreed to direct a play called “The Gift.” It’s about a very special keepsake box, which has been given away by mistake and ends up in cities across the country. The play is a short, one-act play. Before and after the play there will be Christmas music.
Nancy Keeler, who leads a band called Jazz Alley, said her musicians have worked up some holiday music. So they’ll perform a pre-play concert. After the plays, we’ll have a Christmas-carol singalong. On Saturday, the post-play music will be by John Westin and his Higher Vision quartet, and on Sunday, Ron Ruppel will conduct the Community Choir Men’s Chorus.
And to make the event even sweeter, we’ll have homemade Christmas cookies at intermission.
The Dec. 14 event begins at 6:30, with Jazz Alley followed by the play. On Dec. 15, the pre-play music is from 3:30 to 4. The post-play caroling will immediately follow the play. Tickets for the Christmas play are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
As usual, tickets will be available at Peter & Annie’s World Market or by calling 715-822-2787 and leaving a message.
Yes, I know you’re busy at this time of year, but taking time out for these events will allow you to enjoy the phenomenal artistic talent in Cumberland. Hope to see you at Northern Lakes and at the Cumberland Arts Center.
Larry Werner’s email is



Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
Phone: (715) 822-4469
Hours:  8:30 AM–4:30 PM M-F