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Joshua Thomas
Eric Stroud performs "In Dulci Jubilo".

Joshua Thomas
At the Upstate Chapel, those performing at the organ, located on the second story facing away from the crowd, are filmed and projected to provide the audience a birds-eye-view.

Joshua Thomas
Norma Bowley acted as accompanist for numerous acts Friday evening.

Joshua Thomas
Rachael Takacs performs "O Come, O Come Emmanuel".


Talented locals perform holiday songs in the ambient Upstate Chapel

Thursday, December 19, 2013 - Updated: 9:31 AM


C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE -- On Friday evening, attendees of the Upstate Chapel's Third Annual Community Christmas Concert were transported to an otherworldly, colorful holiday atmosphere before even entering the building. Approaching the former Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Cliff St., the majestic building towered over the village, bathed in alternating red and green lighting, the lightly falling snow accentuated by the shifting accents.

Inside, the atmosphere was warm and inviting, and for the third year in a row, the Upstate Chapel provided an eclectic holiday program featuring some of the area's most talented performers, both vocal and instrumental.

The mood was further set prior to the first performance, "In Dulci Jubilo", on organ, by facility owner Eric Stroud, with a candlelight advent and Christmas organ prelude, also performed by Stroud, beginning at 6:50 p.m.

Friday, seasoned favorites performed flawlessly alongside newcomers, with many performances accompanied by the Upstate Chapel's grand piano. For a three-carol performance, featuring "People Look East", "In Dulci Jubilo", and "Antioch", Stroud played a "portative", an instrument unfamiliar to many in attendance. The instrument, explained Stroud, was a precursor to the organ. It was played almost like an accordion, with the performer controlling the bellow, pumping air through the small, primarily wooden instrument.

Friday's performances were wide ranging, from a flute and piano performance of "On That Most Blessed Night", "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" by Anne Cooper accompanied by Norma Bowley, to three lovely, on-point performances by Upstate Chapel regular Rachael Takacs, to an original Christmas song by Roland Vinyard, accompanying himself on guitar, titled "That's What Christmas Means to Me." The 2007 piece, said Vinyard, was one of the rare autobiographical songs he's written.

Lulling harmonies filled the former sanctuary as the Our Lady of Hope Choir performed "O Come, Divine Messiah" and "Child of the Poor", followed by a performance of "The First Noel" by talented musician Naphtali Rothrock on the pipe organ, her hands and feet displayed at the head of the room for all to see via a video surveillance system.

Susan Crua, also accompanied by Bowley, as many of the musicians were, detailed translations of the foreign phrases in her performance of "Panis Angelicus," as to highlight "the import of the words." The song, she said, outlines the "Feast of Corpus Christi", referring to the "bread of angels", "bread of man", and "bread from Heaven".

Additional performances by Alto Jessica Harris and Soprano JoAnn McNamara rounded out the evening's program.

Stroud, in the handout provided at the door, listed numerous upcoming shows scheduled for 2014, including the Feb. 22 "Pipe Organ Encounter"; a "Celebration of Ireland", to be held March 14; the May 9 "Historic Organ Recital and Lecture" at Trinity Lutheran Church, Stone Arabia; and the June 27 "Hymn Festival and Patriotic Works".

For more information about Upstate Chapel, or to keep updated regarding upcoming events, visit or view the facility's page on Facebook.

Joshua Thomas - Upstate Chapel Owner Eric Stroud welcomes the crowd to the Third Annual Community Christmas Concert Friday.

Joshua Thomas - The Our Lady of Hope Choir performs "O Come, Divine Messiah".

Joshua Thomas - Naphtali Rothrock performs "The First Noel" on the Upstate Chapel's pipe organ.

Joshua Thomas - Susan Crua, accompanied on the grand piano by Norma Bowley, performs "Panis Angelicus".

Joshua Thomas - Flutist Anne Cooper performs "On That Most Blessed Night".

Joshua Thomas - Jessica Harris performs "Mary, Did You Know?"

Joshua Thomas - JoAnn McNamara performs "Gesu Bambino".

Joshua Thomas - Eric Stroud performs three carols on a portative.

Joshua Thomas - Roland Vinyard performs "Virgin Mary", followed by the original "That's What Christmas Means to Me".

Joshua Thomas - The Upstate Chapel was lit in alternating holiday colors, welcoming attendees in a bright, otherworldly fashion.


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