Eureka tenor returns to Peoria for ‘American Family Christmas ‘

Thomas Studebaker

The Peoria Area Civic Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Joseph D. Henry, will resume live performances with a presentation of “An American Family Christmas” on Friday and Saturday, Dec.  17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec.  19 at 3 p.m. at Five Points Washington.

Each performance will include many contemporary arrangements of classic Christmas carols like “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” and secular holiday favorites including “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Snow” (from White Christmas) and a theatrical version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Tenor Thomas Studebaker, who grew up in Eureka, will be the guest artist for the series. Studebaker returns after appearing with PACC in spring 2017’s “Celebrating 35 Years of Music!” concert series. Highlights of Studebaker’s career include guest soloist appearances for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under the direction of Kurt Masur with both the New York Philharmonic and London Philharmonic and playing Siegmund in Die Walküre at New Orleans Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires under the direction of Charles Dutoit. Studebaker will collaborate with the Chorale for John Jacob Niles’  “I Wonder as I Wander” and perform multiple solo pieces including “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “White Christmas.”

The Peoria A Capella chamber ensemble, a newly formed adult singing group under the direction of Dr. Henry, will perform four selections at each concert, including “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” and “Wana Baraka,” a Kenyan folk hymn. Each performance will feature a talented teen Young Artist Competition winner: Jaelyn Zoss of Lowpoint (Dec.  17), Leah Johnson of Peoria (Dec.  18) and Jillian Bober of Metamora (Dec.  19). These young singers will each receive a scholarship for music education in addition to the opportunity to perform during “An American Family Christmas.”

Each concert will also feature special appearances from the Grinch, Santa’s elves and reindeer and, of course, Santa himself. A cake reception sponsored by Scherer Lincoln/Volvo will follow the Saturday evening concert.

Tickets for “An American Family Christmas,” as well a spring presentation entitled  “Love, Laughter and Happiness” on May 6-7, are $20 for adults, $8 for students and $18 for groups of 10 or more or for season tickets and are available online at, by calling 309-693-6725 or at the door.

The concert season is sponsored by CEFCU, Parsons, Reditus Laboratories and is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.