Holiday Choral and Music Programs
Photo courtesy Robert Duerr of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
Harmonia Chamber Singers at Assumption Church
Many churches in the Buffalo area have choruses and music to accompany their worship services. During the Christmas season, these ensembles are often expanded, and some churches feature special programs along with or independent from the service.
One service that will be presented at several different churches is Lessons and Carols, which traces, in scripture and song, the Nativity story as foretold by the Old Testament prophets and narrated by the Gospel writers. It originated almost a century ago in King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University and is repeated in churches of nearly every denomination.
St. Louis Church at 35 Edward Street is the oldest Catholic Church in Buffalo. It was dedicated in 1829 on land donated by Louis LeCouteulx, one of Buffalo’s earliest settlers, and St. John Neumann, the first male saint from the US, ministered at the church in 1836.
December 1 at 10:30 a.m.: Annual German Mass (Weihnachtmesse) A pre-Mass concert of traditional carols will begin at 10:30 a.m. by the German-American musicians, with Frank Scinta and choir accompanying. A reception will follow in the Church hall.
December 11 at 7 p.m.: Canisius High School Music Ensembles, Services of Lessons and Carols
December 22 at 4 p.m.: St. Louis Choir, A Festival of Lessons and Carols
December 24 at Midnight Mass: St. Louis Chorus, directed by organist Frank Scinta, leads Midnight Mass.
The chorus is featured at the musical service every Sunday, on Christmas Day, and will present An Evening of Advent and Christmas Music at Blessed Sacrament Church (time TBD) at 1025 Delaware on December 13.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral at 139 Pearl Street was founded in 1817 and featured the first church organ in Buffalo. It was installed in 1829, with John Sheppard (the first music store owner and music teacher in Buffalo) being the organist and choir director for twenty-five years. The choir was formed in 1867 and has performed internationally. The Cathedral and Treble Choirs are led by the Rev. Robert Duerr and Abigail Rockwell.
December 22 at 4 p.m.: service of Lessons and Carols
December 24: “From Darkness to Light” Festival Holy Eucharist of Christmas, featuring Haydn’s St. Nicholas Mass and traditional carols (need to verify)
St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral at 50 Franklin Street was established by Bishop Timon, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Buffalo, in 1847 and dedicated in 1855. Its Hook & Hastings Organ was installed at the cathedral in 1877 and was originally the organ featured at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.
December 8 at 3 p.m.: Buffalo Choral Arts Society presents Carols New and Old
December 16 at 7:30 p.m.: Organist and music director Tim Socha leads Lessons and Carols
December 24: 4:30 p.m. mass, brass and cantor; at Midnight Mass brass and choir
December 25: 10:30 a.m. Christmas Day mass brass and cantor
Trinity Episcopal Church at 371 Delaware Avenue is known for jazz presentations at the church, with Bobby Militello performing there monthly.
December 20: noon, organist and choir director Paul Cena presents a brown-bag organ recital featuring arrangements of Christmas music by classical and contemporary composers.
Holy Trinity Lutheran at 1080 Main Street traces its roots back to 1879, when it became Buffalo’s first English speaking Lutheran parish, with the church later sponsoring seven other Lutheran congregations. Holy Trinity houses the Margaret L. Wendt Memorial Organ, which is listed as the twenty-eighth largest organ in the world.
December 8 at 6 p.m.: Choirmaster Justin Pomietlarz and organist Kristen Pomietlarz lead Lessons and Carols, followed by musical responsory with the UB Choirs directed by Claudia Brown.
December 15 at 1 p.m.: The Mystery of the Manger Bed, a play by Buffalo theater professor Martin Bauer
December 18 at 9:45, preceding the 10:30 service: The Chancel Choir of Holy Trinity performs a Christmas Eve program in the
Mansperger Chapel accompanied by brass, percussion, harp and organ at 9:45, preceding the 10:30 service, which concludes with traditional carols arranged by Director of Music Emeritus, James Bigham.
Westminster Presbyterian Church at 724 Delaware Avenue is known for its tradition of choral music ministry, with its choir having toured England and Europe.
December 6 at 7:30 p.m.: Friends of Harmony present a holiday concert.
December 18 at noon: The American Caroling Company performs traditional and contemporary Christmas classics in Dickensian attire.
December 20 at 7:30 p.m.: The Choirs of Westminster are joined by the WNY Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo Brass, QED Vocal Ensemble, and Westminster Handbell Choir. More than 100 musicians present classical masterworks, handbell favorites, and Christmas carol singalongs, directed by Garrett F. Martin.
Corpus Christi Church at 199 Clark Street serves Polish immigrants and the Polish community. Directed by Mary Palmer, the church ensemble presents modern Christian and Polish Folk at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Mass.
The Harmonia Chamber Singers, directed by Robert Duerr, present festive holiday music from Baroque to contemporary at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, 158 Laverack Avenue in Lancaster on December 14 at 7:30 p.m., Saints Peter & Paul Church, 5480 Main Street in Williamsville on December 15 at 4 p.m., and St. Joseph University Church at 3269 Main Street in Buffalo on December 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus presents its holiday program, Evolution: You Are…Peace at North Presbyterian Church, 300 North Forest in Williamsville on December 7 at 7:30 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Church at 695 Elmwood on December 8 at 3 p.m., and Orchard Park Presbyterian Church at 4369 S. Buffalo Street on December 13 at 7:30 p.m.
More holiday concerts:
The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus performs Handel’s Messiah at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna on December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
The Lewiston Choraleers present Christmas concerts at Our Lady of Mount Carmel at 2486 Grand Avenue, Niagara Falls on December 1 at 2 p.m.; St. Peter RC Church, 620 Center Street, Lewiston on December 7 at 1 p.m., and Messiah Lutheran Church 915 Oneida Street, Lewiston on December 8 at 2 p.m.
Vocalis Chamber Choir offers a Vocalis Christmas on Friday December 6 at 8 p.m. at Saints Peter & Paul at 5480 Main Street, Williamsville.
The Advent Chorale presents Handel’s Messiah at Baker Memorial Methodist at 345 Main Street, East Aurora, on December 7 at 7:30 p.m.
The Freudig Singers offer Christmas Pie at St. Joseph University Church at 3269 Main Street in Buffalo on December 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Blessed Trinity Church, 317 Leroy Avenue, Buffalo, on December 8 at 3 p.m.
Festival Chorus presents a Holiday Concert at St. Katharine Drexel RC Church at 118 Schiller Street in Buffalo on December 8 at 3 p.m.
The Calvary Episcopal Church Choir performs Lessons and Carols at Calvary Episcopal Church at 20 Milton Street in Williamsville on December 15 at 4 p.m.
Lutheran Chorale presents The Word Was God at St. Luke Lutheran at 900 Maryvale Drive, Cheektowaga, on December 15.
The Feast of the Epiphany closes out the Christian Christmas holiday with the celebration of Three Kings Day on January 6. An Epiphany Concert will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 150 Broad Street in Tonawanda on January 5 at 6 p.m., with a combined chorus from St. Francis and the following North Tonawanda churches: Grove Street Christian Church, Friedens United Church of Christ, and St. Jude the Apostle, along with the First Presbyterian Choir and Handbell Choir from Buffalo, Epiphany Horn Ensemble and Woodwind Chamber Ensemble, directed by Eileen Brusino.
"Concerts For The Soul" combine the gifts of Tenor Vocalist Cory James Gallagher, and his sister, Writer-Poet Amy Gallagher, to form a unique and inspiring concert-experience.
Professional Tenor Vocalist Cory James Gallagher --who many describe as has the voice of an angel--is known and loved throughout the WNY community for his soul stirring vocal talent, that reaches straight into the heart, and brings people in touch with a deep inner peace. He sings and plays music each weekend at 5 different Catholic churches in our diocese including SS. Colomba-Brigid, Blessed Sacrament, St. Andrew's, St. Michael's and UB Newman Center.
His sister Amy Gallagher is a Professional Award-winning Writer-Poet. Amy's poetry is rich with insight, celebrating life's meaning, and inspiring her audiences.
Together, Cory and Amy weave their gifts, taking their audience on a "Musical-Poetic Journey" that reflects the seasons of our lives: hope and joy, grief and loss, facing challenging situations, celebrating the wonder and marvel of existence.
Along with his role as a Church Musician, Cory is also a Certified Death Doula, bringing comfort to those in their final stages of life. "I have offered musical support at hundreds of funerals over the past 15 years, and I often find myself going beyond the role of musician, to offer comfort to the families during this tender time." Cory has formed long-time relationships with many of these families. For him it is a true calling.
Also, this past January their ministry for the grieving hit home, when Amy and Cory lost their beloved father—Daniel James Gallagher who was their inspiration and what they described as "their number one fan."
Each concert features a special segment dedicated to Grief & Loss, to bring hope and comfort to those who are grieving. The duo also custom-designs unique memorial concerts. Some special memorial concerts have included an appearance at Tim Russert's Memorial; a special memorial concert dedicated to Maksym Sugarovskiy the little boy who lost his life in Delaware Park in 2015; a healing concert for families who have experience the loss of children and an "Peaceprints" concert series for Sister Karen Klimczak SSJ on the ten year anniversary of her death. Their concerts are offered seasonally and offer support and comfort to the WNY community, in many ways.
"Concerts For The Soul" also freely share their concerts to uplift those in need in hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons.
The concerts speak to people from all faith backgrounds and spiritual beliefs, as they address the universal themes of life and the human-heart.
Concerts for the Soul will present A concert series in December called Christmas Wonder: A Musical-Poetic Journey
St. Michael’s Church, 651 Washington St, Buffalo on Friday, December 20th at 7PM
St. Mary’s of the Lake Church: 4737 Lakeshore Rd, Hamburg on Saturday December 21st.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many churches will offer expanded choruses, so check your local church for listings. Let the sound of music uplift your spirits and soul during this Christmas holiday season.
Rick Falkowski gives presentations on Buffalo music and history. He is the author of History of Buffalo Music & Entertainment and Profiles Volume 1: Historic & Influential People from Buffalo & WNY – the 1800s.