“Incredible” Collaboration Presents Christmas Cantata

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IMPERIAL — Music is a language especially enjoyed at Christmas. Some intuitively live it in their being. Such is the case with Imperial Community Church choir director Susan Sanchez, wife of Pastor Albert Sanchez, who directed a special Cantata Sunday morning, December 18.

“I don’t read music,” Mrs. Sanchez explained. “I know when the note is colored in, there is one beat, and if not, it is held longer. I count on the actual choir to assist me.”

Dressed in a beaded, black long dress, her entire being moved in sync with the rhythm as her arms and hands gracefully directed her once-a-year choir in a captivating, half-hour performance.

Such honesty from their leader is appreciated by the dozen choir members as well.

“We really came together! We impressed ourselves.” said Imperial Valley Symphony trombone player and church elder, David Malan, one of the few who does thoroughly read music.

He along with Mrs. Sanchez unashamedly thanked God Almighty for the miracle of “incredible collaboration” with just a normal group of young and old singers, “unpolished and unskilled.”

There was an even dozen in the choir, ladies dressed in shades of green, and men in red, singing an edited version of “Hark the Angels Sing,” a Branch Wood-Benson Christmas musical. Elder Bryan Jones, who plays guitar normally at church, had shortened the program and accompanying tract. Matt Sanchez handled sound.

Michael Leonard and Jane Wilson, portraying two heavenly angels, narrated the Biblical account of Jesus, second person of the Trinity, entering the world as a child born of a virgin with the sole purpose of taking on all of humankind’s sin and offering the salvation of forgiveness by grace. Leonard’s voice cracked with emotion at each reading during practice and again during the performance at this final proclamation when reading, “The whole world will recognize Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

The program began with “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Holy, Holy, Holy” in the opening Throne Room suite. In the second set The Announcement, Matthew Woodward, senior at Imperial High School, portraying Joseph, sang a solo opposite Mary portrayed by Savannah Sais, youth group leader along with her husband Jonny at the church. Sais’s voice was sweet and innocent contrasted to a very mature, strong voice of Woodward.

The following Bethlehem Suite ended with the choir’s “Joy to the World,” bolstered, but not overshadowed by the exquisite voice of Amanda Guerrero, church pianist and lead singer. Without effort, she could have belted the number to the rafters, instead she led her fellow singers to an exciting, unified crescendo.

Two more medleys followed with the congregation joining, singing, “He is Lord.”

A message from the gospels by Pastor Sanchez followed. Guests and regular attendees both had been treated to a very special morning, surpassing expectations.

Choir Director Sanchez mused, “I occasionally think that I should take a course in reading music, but I really don’t know if I want to know more. I feel like the little drummer boy who simply gives what he has to the LORD. It is the LORD Himself who takes the unpolished and creates the miracle.”

Next Sunday is Christmas Day. The church invites all to join them to hear Mrs. Anne Horne on the piano and Master’s Seminary Divinity student Jonathon Dale preaching. There will be no evening service that day.