To help get you in the holiday mood, the Mainland Chorale and Duck & Cover A Cappella vocal groups from College of the Mainland will present a free concert “Songs of the Light” at 7:30 p.m. today at St. John’s United Methodist Church, 8200 25th Ave. N., in Texas City.

Both groups, made up of current and former students, and residents of Galveston County, will sing several pieces dealing with positive and uplifting things, such as the nurturing and healing effects that music has on us, said James Heffel, director of vocal arts at COM.

Heffel, who has three degrees in vocal music performance, including a doctorate of musical arts from the University of Houston, has been at the college for 27 years.

“Our whole program this semester evolved into a really fun and entertaining repertoire,” Heffel said. “Several of the pieces relate to light, leading to the concert’s theme being ‘Songs of the Light.’ However, not all of the music has to do with ‘light.’”

The performance will feature pieces that “spoke” to Heffel, he says, that will all tie in nicely to fit into the theme of the concert.

The Mainland Chorale will present a choral showcase of the musical “Pippin,” holiday tunes, as well as other selections. And the Duck & Cover A Cappella group, which is in its second year will perform a variety of cover tunes that have all been beautifully arranged by Heffel.

“Duck & Cover, as a smaller group, serves as the ‘vocal ambassadors for our college frequently performing in the community,” Heffel said. “They have a set of amazing music, including ‘Pure Imagination’ from Willie Wonka, and a very difficult arrangement of ‘My Funny Valentine,’ that you don’t want to miss.”

Shawn Johnson, 38, a former student at COM, is a member of both groups and will be one of the featured soloists at tonight’s concert.

Johnson, who has been an independent country music singer for the past 17 years, sings bass/baritone and joined the chorale in 2011 to help him vocally when his voice got in a “rut,” he said.

“One of my friends told me about the chorale years ago, and I wanted something more solid to help me with my voice,” Johnson said. “I knew and respected Dr. Heffel when I was a student at COM, so it was a no-brainer for me to get involved — and as long as he’s here, I’ll be here.”

The singers, who have been working hard all semester, recently got a chance to perform at Texas City’s ArtWalk event, as well as at private engagements, Heffel said.

“I hope it (concert) comes off like it’s supposed to,” Johnson said. “We’ve been working really hard, and we’re looking forward to performing in front of another crowd.”

Heffel said the concert will be followed by a reception in honor of Warren Nichols, the new president of COM.

“Our president has indicated that he will be in attendance for this show, so the vocal arts has decided to host a reception in his honor following the show,” Heffel said. “This will give more of our fine community members the opportunity to meet and greet with not only our president but an opportunity to hear some amazing musical arrangements.”

For information, email or call 409-933-8200.

Angela Wilson: 409-683-5239;

Community News Editor

(1) comment

Jose' Boix

Excellent performance and a great venue; thanks to COM's Dr. Heffel and St. John United Methodist Church's Pasto Stephanie Hughes, and the whole ensemble. It is great to see classy events highlighting our local talent.

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