Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Nature Coast Festival Singers plan Christmas concerts, 'Messiah' community sing

WEEKI WACHEE — Alexis Pletincks has always loved to sing.

Her father, David, oversees the vocal and instrumental music program at Powell Middle School in Spring Hill, and she sang with the school's choir. When David Pletincks spearheaded the Nature Coast Children's Chorale, she began performing with that group as well.

That experience has allowed Alexis to tackle difficult classical pieces at community concerts. Now 17 and a senior at Weeki Wachee High School, her efforts are paying off. Just last month, she came second in the state at the Florida Music Educators Association All-State Clinic-Conference. She was the only female alto in the state to have a perfect sight-reading score; in January, she will perform at the All-State Choirs event in Tampa.

Local residents will have a chance to hear Alexis sing Sunday when she performs at the Nature Coast Festival Singers Christmas Concert at Nativity Lutheran Church. The concert is the first of three scheduled for the next few weekends.

"I enjoy having a chance to perform a solo experience," Alexis said. "I don't often get a chance to do classical pieces."

The young alto will sing O Holy Night. She will also perform on the French horn with a brass ensemble, which includes her father on trumpet. There will also be another trumpet, a trombone, a tuba and percussion.

Although billed as the Barb Reeck Memorial Scholarship recipient by the Festival Singers, Alexis is no stranger to the community choir. She first performed with the Festival Singers when she was in the seventh grade, during a concert with the Nature Coast Children's Choir. Since then, she has been awarded several scholarships by the group.

"Alexis is extremely talented," said Liesl King, publicity chairwoman for the Festival Singers. "She picked it up and sang it flawlessly her first try. … She's got all kinds of talent."

The Nature Coast Festival Singers have been presenting their holiday concert for nearly 20 years. The chorus has about 70 singers under the direction of Jim Urbansky, with accompanist Kathy Hackemer.

While past concerts focused on the Christmas songs from Handel's Messiah, this year promises something different. In fact, all but one song will be by other composers.

Songs include old favorites such as O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Jeremy Silverman, John Rutter's Candlelight Choir and Gwyneth Walker's Alpha and Omega. Soloist Janice Beamer from the University of South Florida will perform William Everett's I Saw Three Ships.

"The only piece of the Messiah will be the Hallelujah chorus," King said. "There will be a real different series of music this year."

Fans of Messiah will still be in for a treat, King promises.

The Festival Singers will host the "George Frideric Handel's Messiah — Community Sing" Dec. 16 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in New Port Richey.

Anyone wanting to sing with the group can still sign up, King said. She said calls have been coming in from interested individuals throughout the Tampa Bay area.

"We wanted to offer the Messiah as a separate piece, as a way to bring the community together," King said.

Proceeds from that concert will benefit the Vets 4 Warriors charity, which offers confidential military support by veterans.

King said the chorus has had to learn a lot of new songs for its concerts this year. In particular, Alpha and Omega has proven to be a "major undertaking," she said.

"But everything is coming along great. … We're excited."

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