‘A great time to be together’

Choral society performs at First Presbyterian Church

Special to The Sun: Essence of Harmony Choral Society performed its “Messiah” concert at the Burlington County Library last year.

Essence of Harmony Choral Society will present its second annual holiday concert – “Joy! A Soulful Celebration of the Season” – at First Presbyterian Church in Moorestown on Dec. 3.

The choral society, founded by Cherisse Bonefont in 2018, is made up of members from the Moorestown area. According to its website, the group was born of the need to create a space and medium through which singers of all skill levels can share their musical gifts with the Burlington County community.

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The group held its first in-person concert last year at the township library.

“Everything was virtual, so we did things over Zoom for the holidays, for Black History Month, just anytime we did anything, it was all virtual,” said Gwen Ricks-Spencer, a member of the choral society. 

“It was our chance to get together and perform in public.”

She described performing in person as “amazing.”

“The shutdown as a result of the pandemic made people appreciate the ability to get together and that we don’t take it for granted, so we’re still very careful,” Ricks-Spencer noted. “It’s just so good to get back together because Zoom is not conducive to choral singing. It doesn’t work.”

She explained how the choir shared its music during COVID.

“Every person had to record their part and then it was put together in a video so that people could hear it,” she recalled. “But it was great to be back in person and to sing, and it gave me, and I think everybody, an appreciation of how wonderful it is to be able to come and work with people in the community in-person.”

“Joy! A Soulful Celebration of the Season” is a 50-minute piece that was arranged by Dave Williamson and features classics such as “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Noel,” among others.

Ricks-Spencer praised the choral society for coming together to bring the music alive.

“We’re just volunteers that do it, and there’s just something special about having all of that come together,” she said. “It heightens the excitement around doing it, and I want people to come away really enjoying this particular piece for the holiday season. And I think that’s what we’re all excited about.”

Ricks-Spencer also shared her thoughts on bringing the music to the community.

“The holidays remind us that it’s a great time to be together and to realize that on many, many levels we have more in common than we have that’s different,” she pointed out. “Sometimes you have to step back and think about that, and I think when people get together over the holidays, that that’s what they do.”

“My personal wish is that that’s what people come away with.”

More information is available at https://www.essenceofharmonycs.org.

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