Theresa Thomason

Celebrate in song with Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Vocal Arts

When it was time to draw up a program for the holiday season, Diane Retallack, the artistic director of the Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Vocal Arts, knew exactly what she wanted.

“I wanted a celebration,” she declares.

She will get that on Dec. 12 at the Hult Center when both vocal groups, along with nationally renowned gospel vocalist Theresa Thomason, converge at Silva Concert Hall for A Holiday Celebration. It’s a tribute to the season with arrangements of traditional holiday and religious pieces, and, maybe, just an all-out celebration at the end for all of us having made it this far in the pandemic. 

The 80-strong Eugene Concert Choir, making its first in-person appearance since the pandemic, will sing arrangements of “A Celtic Noel” as well as “Ya Ba Bom” (a Jewish folk piece) and “The Little Drummer Boy,” among many others.  

Eugene Vocal Arts, a chamber ensemble nearly 40-strong, will be dressed in Elizabethan costume and sing six madrigals, motets and carols from the Renaissance period.

The end of the program veers in a unique direction with a medley arrangement of — get ready for it — Kool and The Gang’s “Celebrate” and Rare Earth’s “I Just Want to Celebrate.” 

Hey, we need something for having made it this far in the pandemic.

Before that, however, Thomason makes her appearance to sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and, most notably, “Sound Over All Waters.” 

“Sound Over All Waters” was composed in 1982 by Paul Halley, then the director of music at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine in New York City, on the occasion of Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, delivering a Sunday morning sermon.

Thomason, a Connecticut-based gospel vocalist, who sings extensively in New York City and travels the world, does amazing work with “Sound Over All Waters.” It must be heard, and I’ll leave it at that.

Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Vocal Arts perform 2:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 12. Tickets are $25 to $50 with $10 student discounts and can be purchased at