Caribou Choral Society lights up church in Grand Isle with performance

5 years ago

GRAND ISLE, Maine — The joy and spirit of Christmas lit up St. Gerard’s Catholic Church Tuesday night as members of the Caribou Choral Society performed their rescheduled Christmas Concert in Grand Isle.

Snowy weather on Sunday forced the group to postpone the concert to Tuesday, when an estimated 100 people showed up for the holiday event.

The Grand Isle show was the first of three in this 42nd year of the society’s Christmas Concert series. Concerts were also scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Holy Rosary Church in Caribou, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. Mary’s Church in Presque Isle.

“This is our 42nd year, and I’ve been conducting ever since we started, so I was 2 years old when we started,” Daniel Ladner quipped to the audience Tuesday.

Ladner went on to explain his favorite part of conducting the choir.

“It’s fun to pick out the music, and then introducing all the music I have planned for them, and then to watch their progress,” Ladner said. Then he smiled. “They’re often not very good in the beginning, but after ten rehearsals, they reach this point where they are ready for performance. And I’m always so proud when that day comes.”

Members of the choir are from all over Aroostook, including two from Grand Isle. The group agreed to perform in Grand Isle after being invited to celebrate the beginning of the community’s 150th anniversary.

Some of the songs they sang included some of the traditional Christmas songs like “The Holly and the Ivy,” “Unto us a Child is Born,” and “Rejoice and Sing.” Other songs they sang were more contemporary like the Hawaiian Christmas carol, “Mele Kalikimaka,” and Irving Berlin’s Christmas medley.

For the very last song on the list, “The Hallelujah Chorus,” Ladner enlisted the help of the audience and invited up anyone who had ever sung the hymn in their choir growing up. Among some of the community members who volunteered to sing along with the society was Father Alex Antony who spent two years in the Presque Isle and Caribou areas beginning in 2015 when he joined the Diocese of Portland. He now resides in St. Agatha and serves several churches in the Valley.

At the conclusion of the performance, the audience was invited down to the basement for refreshments and a chance to visit with friends and members of the choir.