A 61-member Gahanna Community Chorus will debut at 3 p.m. Nov. 24 at Mifflin Presbyterian Church, 123 Granville St.
An abbreviated version of the group's first concert will be presented outdoors the same day, at 4:30 p.m. during Holiday Lights at Creekside.
Kate Cremean, chorus director, said the chorus' inaugural concert will feature several seasonal favorites, such as a "White Christmas" medley, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" and a rousing version of "Jingle Bells."
She said some original material will be included, such as the ballad "Season of Light" and new arrangements of "Deck the Halls" and "Good King Wenceslas."
Cremean said the chorus includes singers from Gahanna and beyond.
"Our youngest singer is still in high school and there are seven decades represented within the membership," she said. "The group has proven to be a joyful outlet for people who not only love music and performing but love to sing in a choir."
Teri Eriksen, a Mifflin Presbyterian member and part of the Grace Hall Memorial Fund planning team, said the startup chorus was enabled by a memorial-fund grant from Mifflin, which serves as the chorus' home base.
She said the Grace Hall Memorial Fund is a planned-giving arrangement initiated in 2017 by longtime congregation member Eldon Hall in memory of his wife, Grace.
"The annual gift is substantial and intended to increase our congregation's engagement with and service to the community," Eriksen said. "Mr. Hall has special interests in Gahanna, children and youth, and Mifflin's visibility as an open and inviting faith community."
Eriksen said she is a member of a three-person study group charged with researching gaps and opportunities in the Gahanna community, recommending viable strategies to address those gaps and guiding implementation when strategies are approved.
"Over time, we expect the fund will enable a portfolio of ministries and community outreach that would not otherwise be financially feasible," Eriksen said.
She said the chorus is the fund's second major project.
"The first was the creation of an after-school program for elementary children beginning in August 2018," Eriksen said.
After the Gahanna Community Theatre announced its hiatus, Cremean, Mifflin Presbyterian's director of music, shared her longtime dream of starting a community chorus, Eriksen said.
"Together, we built on the idea by creating a proposal, surveying stakeholders and interested parties, then getting approval from our benefactor and church session," she said. "Since early in 2019, Cremean has done a lot of the heavy lifting on the music and organization side. She is clearly established as the face of the chorus and serves as its director."
Concurrently, Mifflin Presbyterian and the study group provided executive leadership and startup funds.
"As we did with Gahanna Residents in Need so many years ago, we foresee the chorus eventually becoming a free-standing entity," Eriksen said. "In the interim, we expect the fund to subsidize the chorus annually while (organizers) get their feet under them."
Chorus member Tom Gregory said the group is special to him because he is participating in it with his wife, mother and in-laws.
"It's a chance for us to be able to be together and sing," he said. "A number of people in the community chorus have been in Gahanna Community Theatre. Some of these people I've known and been in performances with for 35 years."
Chorus member Deidre Spahn said she became a Gahanna resident in March.
"So this was a really great way for me to come out and meet new people and be part of the community," she said.
In addition to this month's performance, the chorus plans a performance of musical theater and show tunes in February and a patriotic-themed show in May.