Downers Grove

West Towns Chorus of Downers Grove to perform holiday concerts

This year’s Illinois District Chorus Champion, The West Towns Chorus, a men’s barbershop a cappella singing group that rehearses in Downers Grove, will celebrate with a return to live performances of its popular Christmas show Dec. 11 in Bolingbrook.

With all its members vaccinated, and masks required for the audience, the chorus will be back with shows at 2:30 and 7 p.m. in Living Water Community Church, 190 Lily Cache Lane, Bolingbrook.

Tony Tumea of Downers Grove, a 22-year member of the chorus, said the group is more than ready to resume singing in front of audiences, having spent many rehearsals on Zoom before singing with each other again in their rehearsal space at Horizon Community Church in Downers Grove.

“In fact, we are all really excited about getting to have our Christmas show again; it’s a highlight of our year,” Tumea said in a news release.

Under the direction of Carrie Marcotte of Bolingbrook, West Towns will present “The Christmas Show Must Go On.” Written by chorus member Dave Shepherd, also of Bolingbrook, the first half of the script has touches of humor, while the second half is religious and includes narration and songs about the birth of Jesus. Parts of the script will be narrated by David Mouri of Janesville, Wis.

Members are pleased to be bringing back a show that, in one form or another, has been a popular part of holiday celebrations for at least four decades.

“Even after we [previously] had to find a new venue…we managed to keep much of our repeat audience, because attending our show has become a holiday tradition for many,” Tumea said.

The 25-member chorus will be augmented by guest performers – the Chicago Bronze Handbell Ensemble, under Andrea Handley of Evanston; Affinity Strings and Brass, under Anny Moravec of Downers Grove; keyboardist David Rhodes of Woodridge; and the Village Vocal Chords, a women’s chorus, under Lynn Randall of Oswego.

In addition, there are chorus sub-groups – two VLQs, or Very Large Quartets, among them The Holy Rollers, and Mixology, which includes two men and two women, one of whom is WTC’s director.

Colorful costuming is a tradition. The men start out wearing Christmas colors in the first half and later switch to tuxes with shiny blue-green vests.

Some of the songs highlighting the first half include standards such as “Happy Holidays,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Sleigh Ride.”

The 15-minute intermission provides a chance for patrons to buy raffle tickets for one of the many appealing gift baskets.

The second half begins with “Sing We Now of Christmas,” and includes favorites such as “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby” and “Silent Night,” concluding with the powerful, standing-ovation-producing “Adeste Fideles,” the release stated.

No reservations are needed for the spacious, 500-person venue, where seating will be first-come. For tickets or more information, go to www.WestTowns.org/shows.

Tickets cost $25 plus a $3 processing fee, at the door or ordered ahead, while children 12 and younger pay $15. Group sales of 10 tickets or more cost $23, and may be purchased by calling 630-201-5544.

About the champion chorus

The chorus won the championship title in October. Previous first-place finishes have occurred many times over the years, most recently in 2014 and 2017. The Barbershop Harmony Society rules prevent first-place winners from competing for two years after their win.

Marcotte, who has been director since 2013, shares credit for the success with the whole chorus, and with her two assistant directors, Joe Tomecek of Lombard, and Mark Betczynski of Bolingbrook.

The chorus rehearses every Monday night at 7 p.m. at Horizon Community Church, 2129 63rd St. in Downers Grove. Interested, fully vaccinated singers are welcome. For information on joining the chorus or attending a performance, call 630-201-5544 or visit the website at www.westtowns.org.