BEND AREA — A Christmas cantata by the Bend Area Choir will be presented both Saturday and Sunday evenings in local churches.
“We Sing Noel” is the name of the cantata, which is under the direction of Travis Cullen. The choir is made up of almost 30 members from 10 different churches. Saturday’s cantata will be at the New Haven United Methodist Church on Fifth Street, while Sunday’s presentation will be at the Krebs Chapel United Methodist Church, located at 8514 Sandhill Road.
Cullen said the cantata is a mix of both traditional and contemporary music and songs.
“There is something for everyone,” he said. “It has a nice blend to it, and brings you to the true meaning of Christmas.”
Cullen said this is the third cantata by the Bend Area Choir. What began as a choir of the United Methodist Union Charge churches, consisting of Oak Grove, Vernon, Union and Krebs Chapel, quickly grew.
“We use to say the choir members were from Lakin to Letart, but it is much more than that now,” Cullen stated.
He added there are members from Point Pleasant, Meigs County, Ohio, and more. Cullen said the cantata has traditionally been held at the Oak Grove Church along with the New Haven church, but Krebs Chapel was brought into the Union Charge with year, and choir members felt the location would be new and different.
Cullen is not new at directing cantatas. He first directed the Oak Grove Choir in 2000, at the age of 16, and describes music as his “escape.”
Growing up in church, Cullen said at nine years old, his pastor at the time, Jack Mayes, began teaching him to play guitar. From there he began playing the violin and viola in the Ohio Valley Youth Orchestra, and then to trumpet in the Point Pleasant High School and West Virginia University bands.
This year’s cantata actually had a rough start, according to the director. Cullen said a month into practices, there were only five members. He said he prayed for God’s will to be done, and in three weeks, the voices went from five, to 16, to nearly 30. The original cantata was changed because of the growing members.
“It was in His plans,” Cullen said. “We don’t do this for the Bend Area Choir, we do it for Him.”