During the first half of the concert, the chorus will perform a selection of favorite Christmas carols, accompanied by a brass orchestra. The audience is urged to sing along, as well. In what has become a highlight of the concert each year, a guest conductor will step in and lead the group for one carol.
Donors can sponsor a guest conductor to lead the group for one song for a donation of $1,000. The Choral Society also chooses a guest conductor each year through a standing donation gifted to the chorus by a longtime supporter who passed away.
This year, the Choral Society chose Chamber of Commerce president Ann Ormond, Lachat said.
“We try to pick somebody that has really made a contribution to the community,” she said.
Ormond will conduct on Saturday night during “Silent Night.” The chamber director, who has been a vocalist for more than 40 years, often performs at various community productions and programs. She’s also conducted for church choirs.
While there’s always “a little pre-show jitters” each time she prepares to sing or conduct, Ormond said she was looking forward to the evening — both as an audience member and a conductor.
“I hold my own,” she said. “It’ll be a ton of fun.”
During Sunday’s afternoon concert, two guest conductors will step in. Choral Society president, Beth Rogers is sponsoring founding member Betty Gillette in honor of her upcoming 100th birthday. Gillette, who continued to perform with the chorus regularly until recent years, will conduct for “Silent Night.” Gillette joined about 60 other singers and conductor Clifton Lunt in 1934 to help launch the Newburyport Choral Society.
The memory of another important figure in the Choral Society’s history, the late Roxie Kalashian, is also being honored on Sunday when her daughter, Janet, conducts during “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in her mother’s memory.