HomeMedford NewsHark! The Village Carolers are singing!

Hark! The Village Carolers are singing!

The Village Carolers know a thing or two about Christmas songs, and they're ready to transport listeners to the Victorian Era with each performance.

Contralto Suzanne Chadwick, Tenor Nicholas Petroski, Soprano Holly Gash and Bass Michael Chadwick sing at the Burlington County Victorian Day (Michael Chadwick/Special to The Sun).

As the saying in the film “Elf” goes, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

The Village Carolers do that with the power of their voices.

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Whether you’re ready for Christmas — or still basking in the fall and anticipating Thanksgiving — the holiday season is upon us and the Medford-based carolers let the sounds of the season be heard in their own special way.

“Over the years, we’ve had requests for different songs. Our book is now up to 74 carols and songs, which we rehearse thoroughly in preparation for the season,” said co-founder and bass singer Michael Chadwick. “We added ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ we added ‘The Christmas Song’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ We’re trying to please everybody.”

The Village Carolers set themselves apart from other carolers by singing favorites from the Victorian Era (1837 to 1901, for anyone without Google handy).

“People are surprised to know that ‘Jingle Bells’ predates the Civil War,” Chadwick added. “Our book includes 40-45 Victorian era songs and we have some as far back as the 12th century, like ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel'”

Some of the songs Chadwick mentioned will be heard at the township’s annual Dickens Festival on Dec. 7 along Main Street, where, you guessed it, the carolers will be in full Dickensian garb.

Chadwick said when the group makes appearances, they conform to the time period they’re asked to perform in, commonly talking to people in the language of that time frame. At some points, he added, they will answer the public’s questions in the same manner.

“If somebody asks us for ‘You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,’ we sort of redirect and say that we don’t know it yet and we remind everyone that everything’s from 1905 and earlier.”

The Medford-based group doesn’t just take nightly strolls down township streets. They’ve gained recognition and star power at statewide and national events. They recently appeared at the Hallmark network Christmas Con from Nov. 8 to 10, a celebration of the season from the TV network known for its holiday movies.

“It was wonderfully insane in the best possible way,” Chadwick said of the event. “People were incredibly excited to meet their Hallmark stars, there was an ugly Christmas sweater contest, and we sang for most of the day on Saturday and Sunday.

“By Monday, I woke up and my voice was pretty raw.”

As the group makes appearances large and small, Chadwick noted, a whopping 74 songs in the repertoire enable them to add a bit of spice to each event. The group also performs an original piece called “Sleep Baby Jesus,” which Chadwick described as more of a lullaby than a secular tune.

The carolers inspire a range of emotions from people. Whether they react like Tiny Tim exclaiming “God bless us everyone,” shed a tear when they’re teleported to a fond memory with a missed loved one, or become filled with joy like a kid on Christmas Day, Chadwick said the group has to distance itself from listener reactions so they don’t choke up during a performance.

“We want people to have a good emotional response from it,” he noted. “It’s a very powerful thing to have live music, and when people have visceral feelings, they’re profoundly affected by it.”

Ready to have your ears blessed by the sounds of the season from Medford’s Village Carolers? Grab your jackets, hats and mittens and head to Main Street for the Medford Business Association’s annual Dickens Festival, from 4:30 to 9 p.m., Dec. 7.

To learn more about the Village Carolers or to audition, visit TheVillageCarolers.com.

“[I love] making this beautiful music with other talented vocalists,” Chadwick said. “I love how we create a wonderful experience and feeling for people.”


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