Concert at basilica to benefit Catholic Charities program

Music for the season will fill the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore, Dec. 13 as Catholic Charities presents “1st Christmas Festival at the Basilica of the Assumption.”

The Concert Artists of Baltimore Chorus and the Cathedral Choir of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Homeland, will be performing at the 7:30 p.m. concert, and event organizers said they would like ticket holders to come away with a seasonably spiritual memory.

“The basilica lends itself to music,” said Margie Counselman, chairwoman of the event and a parishioner of the Cathedral. “It’s a good place for music to be performed and they are going to hear good musicians who really know how to perform in a place like the basilica.”

A majority of the 670 available tickets had been sold as of Dec. 6, with preferred seating and a reception at the Enoch Pratt Free Library available for $175 and open seating tickets offered for $100, according to Jim Hillmann, development manager of Gallagher Services. Proceeds from the concert will benefit Gallagher Services, a Timonium-based program which serves people who are developmentally disabled.

Tickets can be reserved up to the day of the performance by calling 410-252-4005 ext. 115, Ms. Counselman said.

Loosely modeled after Gallagher Fest – a holiday musical festival benefit held at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall from 1996-2004 – the 1st Christmas Festival has been in the planning stages since last spring and organizers are thrilled with the response.

“The big fear when you organize an event like this for the first time is, ‘what if nobody comes,’” Ms. Counselman said. “So, you can imagine what a joy it’s been to have ticket sales like this.”

The response has been so good, Catholic Charities has decided to make the concert an annual event that will benefit a different program each year, said Renee Johnson, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities chose Gallagher Services as its beneficiary this year and next year’s Christmas Festival has already been scheduled for Dec. 11, 2008 and will benefit Jenkins Senior Living Community in Baltimore, Mr. Hillmann said.

In addition to ticket sales, three corporations sponsored the concert at $5,000 each and eight companies contributed $2,500 as supporters, Ms. Counselman said.

Organizers are hoping people make this concert an annual tradition during the Christmas season.

“I think there would be a good reason for this,” Ms. Counselman said. “It’s a great way for people who are Catholic to celebrate Christmas at the basilica. It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear real Christmas music at Christmas time, and the money is going to a good place.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.