Wilton Singers present holiday concert

Once again, the Wilton Singers old out in record time their upcoming concert, “Tis the Season — A Holiday Feast,” to be performed Dec. 5 and 6 at the WEPCO Complex.

To accommodate fans who were unable to purchase tickets, and to attract new audience members, for the first time, the group will perform a Sunday afternoon concert featuring selected highlights from the holiday concert, plus a rousing “sing-a-long” of seasonal favorites. There will even be a visit from Santa.

This one-hour, family-friendly event will be held Sunday, Dec. 7, at 4, at Wilton Presbyterian Church. Tickets, available at the door, will be $5 for children, $10 for adults, with a maximum of $20 per family. The singers promise “a fun and joyful afternoon of song.”

The group began in 1983 shortly after two couples, Ed and Jan MacEwen, former Wilton High School Madrigal parents, and Al and Jan Galletly, had attended the 10th Wilton High School Madrigal reunion concert.

“We were very much inspired by the amazing quality of those young singers. We thought it would not only be fun to have a similar choral group for adults, but we could raise scholarship funds to award to graduating WHS Madrigals,” Mr. Galletly said in a press release.

Originally composed of 14 voices, the group performed at several small events, “getting their voices warmed up.”

The Wilton Singers’ first annual fund-raiser was on Mother’s Day weekend in 1986. Dubbed an “Elizabethan Feast,” it featured a fully staged pageant, complete with a concert of madrigal songs, a boar’s head, men in tights and many hot layers of velvet and satin period costuming.

A huge vat of home-made wassail was tucked away in a concealed closet. The hall was draped in medieval banners, and a single knight in shining armor watched over as Queen Elizabeth held court. The hilarious flower wench sold roses, and a strolling monk wandered through the crowd selling dispensations.

A sumptuous four-course meal was served as bands of singers serenaded tableside, culminating with “The Flaming Pudding” and a joint song by the Wilton Singers and Wilton High School Madrigals on stage. Attendees often hosted pre-concert parties at their homes and came to the feast in full costume, pointy hats and all.

Today, the group’s 40 members hail from a variety of professional and musical backgrounds, and span more than 50 years in age. Members live in 10 neighboring towns in addition to Wilton.

The Wilton Singers perform two major concerts each year, a spring cabaret in May, and a holiday feast in December, where they share the stage with the Wilton High School Madrigal Singers.

They have done numerous benefits for organizations such as A Better Chance of Wilton, Meadow Ridge, The CT Composers Association, Ogden House, UNICEF, AFS, the Wilton Library, the Nature Conservancy and the Wilton Playshop.

The Wilton Singers have performed with many well-known musicians including Dave Brubeck, The Brubeck Brothers, Connecticut’s official troubadour Tom Callinan, TV star David Canary and vibraphonist Arthur Lipner.

This season the group welcomes a new director, Daniel Shaw, an accomplished conductor, composer and music teacher, as well as a new accompanist, Thomas Buckley.

Alison Conroy, a former WHS Madrigal, has taken over the reins as president.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to lead this wonderful group of great musicians and friends. They have become like family,” said Ms. Conroy.

True to its original mission, the group has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships to graduating Wilton High School choral students.

For information or to join the mailing list, visit wiltonsingers.org.