As the holidays quickly approach, marking the end of the fall semester, Pitt-Greensburg music director Chris Bartley and the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale are busy preparing to perform as part of the All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County for the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra’s (WSO) upcoming Home for the Holidays Concert, set for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Palace Theatre.
Tickets (starting at $18) are still available and may be reserved by calling 724-837-1850 or visiting westmorelandsymphony.org.
“This is our return to working with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra,” said Bartley, “and the first time since 2019 when the Chorale joined two other choirs in performing ‘Carmina Burana.’ It gives our members the experience of being a symphony choir, which is a completely different experience.”
Mariella Slatter, a first-year student at Pitt-Greensburg, was selected by audition to be the featured soloist for “O Holy Night.” An international student from the university town of Cambridge, Slatter’s previous performance experience includes the Pembroke Girls College choir where she served as head chorister, a position that provided opportunities to rehearse and conduct the ensemble. With the choir, Slatter recorded two albums. Her selection as soloist marks a significant change as the WSO holiday concert has traditionally featured a Pittsburgh Opera soloist.
“It was apparent that Mariella is a very skilled musician and passionate chorister,” said Bartley. “This fall, she earned the solo in “El Vito” for the Chorale concert.” One of Slatter’s aspirations is to become a composer, and she will study conducting with Bartley. “It’s a delight to work with her and the other Chorale and Chambers Singers members.”
Bartley also is proud of the Westmoreland County connection, saying, “We are the people of Westmoreland County, it is of us, and we are of it. This performance allows us to welcome everyone from the region to the concert.”
In addition to the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale, the 40-plus-member All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County will also include participants from Belle Vernon Area, Derry, Franklin Regional, Greater Latrobe, Hempfield Area, Kiski Area, Kiski Prep, and Norwin high schools—another part of the WSO tradition.
A WSO board member and an instructor of music at Pitt-Greensburg, Bartley noted that the WSO program is a little more ambitious than in the past, saying, “It’s exciting to be featured and partner with them.”
The choral segment of the program will include John Williams’ “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,” one of three songs in a suite from the movie, “Home Alone;” an a cappella version of “Carol of the Bells” that is a subtle nod to Ukraine as composer Mykola Leontovych is Ukrainian; and the popular “Hallelujah Chorus.” The All-Star Choir will also lead the closing sing-along of familiar holiday music.