Brandon’s Festival Singers celebrate 40 years

MEMBERS OF THE Brandon Festival Singers were first organized in 1981 and have been operating continuously for 40 years. Their upcoming concert will be December 11 at 3 p.m. at the Brandon Congregational Church.

BRANDON — The 40th Annual Brandon Festival Singers Concert will be performed on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at the Brandon Congregational Church. This popular holiday event features the Festival Singers along with guest musicians, the Catamount Brass Quintet, performing a colorful, varied program of Christmas music. 

The Brandon Festival Singers was started in 1981 by Gene and Jean Childers, who are the music directors at the Congregational Church. This was an effort to provide an opportunity for area singers and musicians to come together to perform. The Congregational Church Woman’s Club gave a donation for music and the church hosted the Festival Singers as a community outreach. 

The first year there were 28 singers and 19 musicians from around Rutland County. Over the years, there have been upwards of 350 different performers from four counties. The choir has sung at Brandon events, in neighboring towns, at two local colleges and at the Vermont Bicentennial celebration at the State House.  

For the 25th anniversary, the BFS recorded a CD of original Christmas music as a fundraiser for charity. The group has maintained high musical standards over the decades while having fun, making new friends and sharing life experiences. There have been children and grandchildren of singers participating from the very beginning.  For many years, there were three generations of the Ripley family. 

It is a very dedicated, close-knit group. Two singers who have sung since the first year are Beverly Sabatini and Ellen Knapp. The audience through the years has been equally dedicated and wonderfully supportive. 

If you have never attended this concert event, this would be a great year to start a new holiday tradition. There is no admission charge. A free will offering is received a portion of which goes to charity. 

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