After working on it since the spring, an area choir will be performing a musical holiday show for the Pekin Community at the end of November.
“Ringing in Christmas,” under the direction of Dr. Jim Rimington, will be performed by Friends in Harmony at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, inside F.M. Peterson Theater at Pekin Community High School. There will be a shuttle bus picking up people at the bottom of the high school’s hill and dropping them off at the door. Tickets are $10 per person and are available from any member of Friends in Harmony. They are also available at Steger’s Furniture at 818 Court St. and The United Way at 206 N. Fourth St. People may call Pam Wolfe at 346-1896 to purchase tickets, as well.
Friends in Harmony President Dave Drockelman said that last year tickets for both shows sold out. He encourages people to buy tickets in advance, because there might not be any for sale at the door. The week leading up to their shows are typically the busiest for ticket sales.
This close-knit group of singers look forward to their Christmas shows each year. After weekly rehearsals, they get together at Kouri’s Pub. They also celebrate birthdays once a month and have an annual golf outing and cookout.
There are 32 adult members and 20 members of the Kidz Friendly group that sings several songs at the shows. The children’s group is directed by Pat Condis and is comprised of students from PCHS and four area elementary schools. Paige Calvert is a senior at Pekin Community High School and will be a guest soloist and is the assistant director for Kidz Friendly.
Another special group from Grace Friends Bell Choir, part of Grace United Methodist Church, will join Friends in Harmony for a few songs this year.
Drockelman said the orchestra is a little bigger this year. Pekin Community High School is letting the group use some percussion instruments including a kettledrum.
When Friends in Harmony first formed, they only sang at four or five corporate functions. Drockelman said that eight to 10 years later, they got an orchestra. This year is their 13th show performing outside of corporate gigs.
Their business has picked up, and the booking demand is greater this year. In the past, they would do about five shows. This year they have nine booked already. One includes a benefit in Morton for a young man who was recently placed on a heart transplant recipient list. They are also performing at the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce’s breakfast in December, area nursing homes and at a Pekin Insurance retirees celebration.
Each year’s show features different music. Drockelman said he estimates that this year it will be about 60-percent religious music and 40-percent secular.
“People will recognize the titles of the songs we’ll sing, but we sing it in a different way,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of jazz numbers and scats this year, too.”
Friends in Harmony gives back to the community financially. In total, they have given over $50,000 to local agencies. Drockelman said all the money they make this year will go to The United Way of Pekin. Drockelman estimated the shows cost about $13,000 to produce.
Members of the choir pay out-of-pocket for items including copyrighted music and clothing for shows. Debbie Mahoney has been part of Friends in Harmony since its beginning. Her husband, Jerry, creates and constructs the sets each year.
“Well, our sets are gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see them on the stage after (they have been) taking over our garage since September,” Debbie Mahoney said. “This show has so many warm and fuzzy moments as well as dynamic and beautiful moments. Sometimes it’s hard to sing because I get a little choked up. The men’s number is hilarious.”
Drockelman said the cast knows and appreciates how many hours go into the production, and they feel they are supported locally. Pekin Insurance puts together the programs for their shows. KMI Warehouses stores the sets after the shows along with the music used that season. Patrons make donations as well.
“Without everyone in the community helping we wouldn’t have a show,” said Drockelman. “We’d like to add another show next year, but it depends on the weather.”