The Highlands Community Chorus would like to invite the community to their awesome Winter Concert on Jan. 6 at the Sebring Church of the Brethren.

“Our concert is titled ‘Peace Restored’ because I felt that after we have all come through the busy Christmas season we could all benefit from a time to refocus and prepare our hearts for the year to come,” explained Christi Hagen, the new chorus director.

“Our members have wonderful voices,” said LaWanna Howell, president. “At our next concert Fred Rivera and Steve Hagen will be singing, as soloists in unison, ’Just a Closer Walk with Thee.’ Our director Christi will be singing ‘I Want to Thank you, Lord.’ Karen Buckwalter will be accompanying on the piano and organ.”

The chorus will also be performing as part of the eighth annual Christmas Choir Festival at Ridge Adventist Church (507 W. Hal McRae Blvd, Avon Park) on Dec. 8. Their Spring Concert will be on March 31 at South Florida State College.

Back in 1998, they were called the ‘Heartland Community Orchestra and Chorus.’ The name was changed to the ‘Highlands Community Chorus’ in 2003. Sue Lewis was the director until October of this year when Hagen was named the new director.

The current officers are LaWanna Howell (president), George Howell (sponsorship and fundraising), Marilyn Blair (treasurer and librarian), Yvonne Glonchak (secretary and web design) and Christi Hagen (chorus director).

“We’re looking forward to a new beginning,” said LaWanna Howell. “We have an exciting new direction with fresh new ideas.”

Hagen is a veteran of the HLT (Highlands Little Theatre) stage as a vocalist, musician and actress. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal and Sacred Music and has played the piano for over 40 years. She also plays the flute.

“I was born here, but grew up in Nigeria, Africa. My family moved back here when I was 8. I was the director of our church choir back in Ohio. This is an exciting new opportunity for me,” said Hagen.

The chorus has about 60 members, with 45 active at this time. Some members are snowbirds and will be coming down south very soon.

Last year, 20 of the chorus members auditioned and were selected to do the opening number at SFSC for ‘The Three Tenors.’ Their song was ‘All I Ask of You,’ from Phantom of the Opera.

“We’re a fun group of retired people, mostly aged 50-85, who would love some younger people join our group,” said LaWanna Howell.

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