By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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There’s no admission charged at the gathering, traditionally held right after Christmas.
But those who came to sing and listen Saturday, Dec. 28, chose to give nearly $1,600 — an amount matched by an anonymous donor — sending close to $3,200 to Sequim Community Aid.
“The match is from a couple who are no longer able to attend Handel with Care,” said Sequim Community Aid volunteer Shirley Anderson.
The donors “want to see [the sing-along] continue as a gift to our community,” Anderson said.
Sequim Community Aid provides assistance with utility bills and rent to Sequim-area single people and families who are struggling, Anderson added.
The donations from Handel with Care could cover most of the month of January, she said.
The non-governmental organization continues to accept donations for this winter and beyond, Anderson noted, at Sequim Community Aid, P.O. Box 1591 Sequim, WA 98382; the phone number is 360-681-3731.
Ehling, for his part, said he was gratified by the turnout of some 250 people.
“[You] never know what a Saturday afternoon will bring,” he said, but “almost all of the seats were claimed including the choir loft.
“I couldn’t have been more pleased with the orchestra,” he added, “and we all had a good time.”
Ehling continues to recover from the coronary and subsequent arterial stent surgery he underwent Nov. 28.
He was taken that morning in an ambulance to Swedish Medical Center, where he stayed for three days.
For the sing-along “Messiah,” Ehling led an orchestra of local musicians along with solo vocalists Jessica and Debbie Reid, a mother and daughter from Port Townsend; Dalton Ackley and Anneka Morgan from Sequim; Esther Morgan-Ellis, a Yale alumna from Port Angeles; Dorothy Hensey of Port Townsend and Vicki Helwick of Port Angeles.
“Milt Patrie [of Sequim] also did an impromptu solo on one piece,” to help the audience a bit, added Helwick.
“Singing the ‘Messiah’ is always a joy,” she said. Performing with Ehling, as she has done on many occasions, is equally rewarding.
“He is such a supportive, generous conductor, assisting the soloists in subtle ways,” Helwick said.
“I will sing any time he asks.”
The maestro is likely to ask again.
At the close of Handel with Care, “he had nearly lost his voice,” said Anderson, “but he invited everyone back next year.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladaily