BERLIN – Music is as much a part of the holidays as twinkling lights, boughs of holly and decorated trees and often transcends particular faiths as evidenced by a local group reaching out this season to those seeking the joy of the season through song.
The Ecumenical Choir of the Eastern Shore (ECHOES) is a local music group made up of members of all faiths and sects whose musical offerings are brightening the holiday season for many in the community. As the group’s name suggests, its membership is as diverse as the music it offers, providing a secular alternative to faith-specific offerings in the area throughout the holidays.
Under the direction of Evonne Lee, who recently left Holy Savior Catholic Church in Ocean City after several years as musical director for the parish, ECHOES has grown by leaps and bounds over the last several months and is now 43 members strong. The group mixes Christian-based holiday music with traditional secular offerings, which, at the same time, are both sacred and light-hearted.
“The idea is to make a great number of people of all faiths aware that this group exists and expose them to sacred music presented tastefully in appropriate settings,” said ECHOES member Sheila Zimmer. “For those who are looking, as we were, for a direction for their spiritual needs, it seems like the perfect resource.”
The appropriate settings Zimmer referred to include but are not limited to several churches in the area including the Temple Bat Yam synagogue, Stevenson United Methodist Church and St. John Neuman Catholic Church, to name a few.
The signature event for ECHOES this holiday season is a concert called “Season of Wonder” planned for December 21 at Atlantic Methodist Church in Ocean City. In the first part of the event, the group will perform a cantata in the church itself accompanied by an orchestra of as many as a dozen pieces. After the concert in the church, ECHOES will host a wassailing in the church hall at Atlantic Methodist, including the singing of traditional Christmas carols along with food and other offerings in an effort to foster an appreciation of all faiths.
“The wassailing certainly brings a different dimension,” said Zimmer. “It’s essentially a reception following the concert that should provide a wonderful cultural experience for the community.”
The “Season of Wonder” concert is set for Dec. 21 at Atlantic Methodist Church in Ocean City starting with the cantata at 5 p.m. For ticket information, mail inquiries to ECHOES at 10454 New Quay Rd., Ocean City, Md. 21842.