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‘In the Moon of Wintertime’ offers an array of different genres

By Staff | Dec 3, 2010

(Submitted photo) 'In the Moon of Wintertime' is a unique and sophisticated soundtrack for a holiday open house — crank it up and gather round the Yule log for a medieval evening in the Manor.

Editor’s Note: The Chronicle Staff does not write reviews. However, the paper will accept reader-submitted content reviewing books, CDs, bands, art shows or other happenings around town.

Before too long it will be time to heat the wassail, hang the wreaths, check out the Christmas in Shepherdstown activities and reflect on the season of Advent.

The newest release from the Parish Pipers, “In the Moon of Wintertime,” is the perfect accompaniment for the season and a welcome change from the ersatz overly synthesized and repetitive Christmas albums produced by (reader, fill in the blank with any pop/rap/country singer.) It features the performances of our friends and neighbors from the Shepherdstown Lutheran Parish. The CD includes a variety of songs from the past and present and around the world including southern gospel, Negro spiritual, folk and contemplative songs for the season performed a cappella and with a variety of accompaniments including violin, sax, guitar and flute.

The Parish Pipers have performed for the Shepherdstown Lutheran Parish for almost 10 years. Several years ago, they ventured into the world of recording with a limited production called “In My Heart” which featured their distinctive sound of guitars, sax and violins combined with strong vocals in praise, worship and gospel tunes. While several members of the group have changed and all have grown, their sound retains this distinctive mix of vocals and instrumentation.

“In the Moon of Wintertime” is a unique and sophisticated soundtrack for a holiday open house – crank it up and gather round the Yule log for a medieval evening in the Manor. The music really deserves center stage to set a contemplative mood (wherever you find it) for meditation, morning or evening prayer, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

Rather than try to create something new for old familiar Christmas songs, the group chose to create a selection that is enticingly “not quite familiar” to many listeners. Many will recognize the title song, “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime,” but probably not the richly rendered “French Carol.” “The Angel Gabriel” may be somewhat familiar, and Lutherans among us will recognize “People Look East.” You can even expect a bit of toe tapping with “Gloria” and the spiritual “There’s a Star in the East.” “Dona Nobis Pacem, (Grant Us Peace),” a traditional Latin piece, is sung in canon, and listeners are likely to find themselves singing at least one of the parts.

This is one Christmas CD that doesn’t sound like all the others keep it with your favorites. It will help dilute the sugar and tell the reason for the season.

The Parish Pipers are:

Irvin Athey (vocals) is a member of St. James’ Lutheran Church in Uvilla. He spends his non-musical time behind the wheel of an AmeriGas truck and helping his wife Sharon “fix up her room” at Wildwood Middle School.

Judy Bradshaw (flute) mixes her musical gifts with her visual artist skills. She is a watercolor artist with work hanging at Dickinson & Wait.

Ingrid Daily (vocals, violin) is a woman of many voices, a member of Asbury United Methodist Church, and a school nurse at Charles Town Middle School

Kathryn Henry (vocals), a long time member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Shepherdstown, is a part-time retired and part-time employed chemistry instructor at Hood College.

Jill Humeas (guitar) is a former local rock-star and member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. She currently is a computer programmer at the U.S. Coast Guard.

Kevin Knitter (vocals) is recently retired LTC from the Army and a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran in Shepherdstown.

Suzanne Offutt (vocals) is a stunning soprano who also happens to be the principal of Shepherdstown Elementary School. She is also a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Shepherdstown.

Ruth Raubertas (piano, violin, vocals) is a talented local music teacher, a Parish Piper from many years ago who has returned to the fold, and a member of Mt. Zion Mennonite Church in Boonsboro, Md.

Sarah Soltow (guitar, vocals) is the quasi-manager of the group, is married to Pastor Fred and is a guidance counselor at Driswood Elementary School.

Lydia Vickers (saxophone, vocals) is the very busy mother of Catherine and Matthew (who are also featured on the CD with “children’s laughter”), as well as a band instructor for five Jefferson County elementary schools.

Guest musicians include Robert Northrup (vocals and arrangements), Don Oehser (dobro), Terry Tucker (percussion), Amanda Townsend (trumpet) and Todd Coyle (bass, percussion, and production). We are very grateful to them for their assistance in this project. The CD was produced, mixed and mastered locally by Todd Coyle and EarthVibe Productions, and cover art was graciously provided by Tara Bell; photography by Mike Zagarella.

You can also hear the group perform selections from “In the Moon of Wintertime” on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 4 at the Men’s Club (War Memorial Building) from 1 to 2 p.m. as they participate in the Christmas in Shepherdstown festivities.