The Friends in Harmony, a 34 person Pekin choir, is ready to get the community into the holiday spirit with its annual Christmas show. They will perform this year’s show called “Merry Christmas to All!” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, inside F.M. Peterson Theater at Pekin Community High School.
Friends in Harmony is a close-knit group comprised of community members who enjoy singing and giving back to the community. There are husbands and wives who sing as well as sisters. Out of the 34 singers, 30 of them are returning members
Patti Johnson will serve as director for the third year. Her daughter Hailie Johnson does their choreography. Val Springborn will be the accompanist, and the Friends in Harmony Orchestra will provide the music for the singing group.
Kidz Friendly will also return for the fifth year. Nicole Ferree will direct the small children’s group.
Last year, the shows sold out. Tickets are $10 each. They may be purchased from any Friends in Harmony member, at Steger’s Furniture or at the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce or by calling 346-1896.
Debbie Mahoney has been a board member and singer for Friends in Harmony for 13 years. She said that the group aims to get 75-percent new music each year and keeps 25-percent. As a result, each year is fresh not only for the audience but for the singers as well.
The Christmas show this year is a mix of traditional, spiritual, a cappella style, a few Pentatonix songs and more.
“We really like to find people’s favorites but sing a different version of it,” Mahoney said. “We are having fun with it. We have a surprise this year. We’ll start the show very differently this year. It might involve someone in a red suit.”
The show is for all ages. Mahoney described it as a nostalgic look back at Christmas.
Just as they have done in the past, proceeds go to The United Way of Pekin. In their 12 years of donating, they have given approximately $47,500 back to the community. Mahoney said they are hoping to go over the $50,000 mark this year.
Each year, they have a gift basket raffle. This year, they will also offer a chance for someone to be the guest conductor for the Friends in Harmony Orchestra. Mahoney said there is no musical background required to win.
Friends in Harmony begins meeting for the Christmas show in March, when they select the numbers they will sing that December. Group members are encouraged to voice their opinions as to what to sing that year. Typically, the list is narrowed down from 50. They begin singing practice in June. Mahoney joked that it is Christmas year-round for them.
“The really neat thing about this group is that it takes a whole bunch of us working together to pull this off,” she said. “The board of 10 people has an 8-page ‘to-do’ list that begins in January and runs through December. Then we start all over again. We are also a very social group of friends. We socialize after practices, celebrate birthdays monthly at Kouri’s, have a golf outing every year, and a potluck kickoff to begin our Christmas season. We have a trivia night at Mashie’s every year to raise money. It isn’t just about the singing. It is also about the friendships.”