Members of the Cascadia Chorale rehearse for the Dec. 10-11 Holiday Concert performances, under the direction of Dana Stromberger. The group is working on a dozen songs for the event. Photo by Laurelle Walsh

Members of the Cascadia Chorale rehearse for the Dec. 10-11 Holiday Concert performances, under the direction of Dana Stromberger. The group is working on a dozen songs for the event. Photo by Laurelle Walsh

By Laurelle Walsh

Cascadia’s annual Holiday Concert is less than a month away, and both the Pipestone Orchestra and the Cascadia Chorale are hard at work preparing for the ever-popular two-night event, Dec. 10 and 11.

In reality, both the orchestra and chorale have been in rehearsal for the December concert since September, giving the singers just 12 rehearsals to perfect 12 songs, according to chorale director Dana Stromberger.

“These singers work so hard,” Stromberger said. “They are so dedicated and enthusiastic it just warms my heart!”

The chorale this year boasts 58 members, the most in its 24-year history, according to Stromberger. She notes also that five of the members are teenagers singing alongside a parent. Nancy Acheson is the chorale’s piano accompanist.

This is Stromberger’s second year as chorale director; it is also Tara Kaiyala Weaver’s second year conducting the Pipestone Orchestra.

Tara Kaiyala Weaver conducts the Pipestone Orchestra in rehearsal for the annual Cascadia Holiday Concert on Dec. 10-11. The orchestra is preparing three works for the concert. Photo by Marcy Stamper

Tara Kaiyala Weaver conducts the Pipestone Orchestra in rehearsal for the annual Cascadia Holiday Concert on Dec. 10-11. The orchestra is preparing three works for the concert. Photo by Marcy Stamper

Conducting the 26-member orchestra is “so much fun,” said Weaver. “It’s a real treat for me: soul food.”

The orchestra is preparing three works, one of which incorporates six holiday pieces. The musicians will also accompany the chorale on five pieces, including three selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” the “Carol of the Magi,” and “Joy to the World.”

Leading her singers through several hours of music “is the most fun thing I do in my entire life,” said Stromberger. In selecting the chorale’s repertoire, Stromberger spends “many hours listening to music I don’t like until I come across the gems that generally burst out of the pack. … It takes a lot of time, but is really fun and exciting at the same time.”

Weaver describes the holiday musical mix as “fun, light-hearted, recognizable and season-appropriate.”

And Stromberger slyly teases, “The audience may see something they have never seen at a Cascadia holiday concert before. That’s all I can say.”

Both music directors expect big audiences in the Community Center each concert night.

“These concerts are beloved by our community and both nights are always well attended, filling the gym to capacity,” said Weaver.