ALLEGANY, NY – Christmas music flowed through the chapel in the St. Elizabeth Motherhouse Sunday afternoon.
Marcia Wymer, music director at the motherhouse, originally planned the Christmas concert for St. Bonaventure University, where she is employed as coordinator of liturgy. Since classes were ending and exams were coming up, not enough students were able to participate. So Wymer came up with Plan B.
“I didn’t want to cancel everything, so I sent an email to a couple of my peeps a month ago asking if anyone wanted to do a concert,” Wymer recalled.
She told them they would be allowed to perform any piece they wanted to, as long as they came prepared. And she gave them a week to reply.
Wymer needed participants to be prepared because she did not schedule rehearsals before Sunday. “I told everyone that we’d be meeting at 12:30 p.m. the day of the concert,” she said. “I chose people who I knew were trusted to show up prepared. I know great people who are great musicians.”
The concert, which attracted over 130 people, began at 2 p.m. The performers included some St. Bonaventure students and some of Wymer’s theater friends. Musical selections ranged from pop to traditional. Featured songs included “In the Bleak Mid-Winter,” “Mary Did You Know,” “Hallelujah,” “The Prayer,” and “Feliz Navidad.” The chorus closed the concert singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” – a number not listed on the program.
Elderly people made up approximately a third of the audience. A few toddlers swayed along to the 20 instrumental and vocal performances. Attendees had a chance to interact during a brief intermission, when they were asked to stand up, greet each other and ask those around them whether they are on the naughty or nice list this year.
Sister Carol Kenyon, who lives in the motherhouse, said she thinks she is on the nice list this year and added this was the first year she experienced the Christmas show at the motherhouse.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Kenyon said. “They’re really good.”
Monica Mattioli, an Olean resident and executive director of alumni operations at St. Bonaventure University, attended the concert and enjoyed it. “It was a lovely expression of the spirit of Christmas,” she said.
Mattioli added she likes to attend events at the motherhouse. “I find it to be a welcoming place with beautiful hospitality year round,” she said.
Sister Mary Lafferty, also a resident of the motherhouse, recalled that last year instead of a concert, Wymer organized a holiday season play.
Wymer concurred, describing the event as a “theater production with songs from different Broadway productions.”
She spoke of the joys of working at both the university and the motherhouse. “Very few people can say they go to work and they love their job,” Wymer added. “I’m very fortunate, and I’m so blessed to work here because the sisters are amazing”