Remembering the true meaning of Christmas is the spirit behind Friday’s annual Candlelit Christmas Concert at Our Lady of Ostrabrama Church in Cutchogue.
The concert is loosely based on the Nine Lessons and Carols service, which has been performed at Kings College in Cambridge, England, since 1878. It celebrates the birth of Jesus in nine short bible readings, interspersed with Christmas carols, hymns and choir music.
“We take a more secular approach; it’s less formatted,” said Southold resident William Roslak, who leads the group. “We don’t have nine lessons. We have five readings: one is biblical and the others are pieces of poetry.”
The concert highlights the themes most people celebrate during this season, like peace, goodwill and family. Yet despite this being Roslak’s fourth concert, Christmas is one of his least favorite holidays.
“People get so into the commercialism. This concert helps to undo my ‘Scroogey-ness’ and puts me in the holiday spirit,” Roslak said. “It’s not about the gifts and things we obsess about, it’s about being here and being in the present.”
Currently the associate director of music at St. Louis De Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach, Roslak formed the Corchaug Singers in 2013. The word “Corchaug” is the native name for Cutchogue and was chosen specifically by Roslak for the group, which is a choral society of young music professionals.
“I think it’s important to have an ensemble with an identity,” Roslak said. “This concert is performed in Cutchogue every year and that’s where we started.”
Other performers invited to perform on Friday include two violinists from the Red Door Chamber players and Southold resident Juliet Rand, 13, a local high school organist who will play the church’s grand Kilgen pipe organ.
“The organ there is really something, it was built in 1938,” Roslak said. “Kilgens were really popular in the 1930s, most notably the one in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. This one too is a gem.”
As Roslak turns his attention to Our Lady of Ostrabrama Church, it’s clear how dear it is to his heart.
“I grew up in that church,” he said. “It’s one of the largest churches on the North Fork. There’s color everywhere, huge murals on the wall. The altar is rich in gold paint, and those frescos. It’s really a beautiful space.”
The Corchaug Singers, directed by William Roslak, will present its fourth annual performance of “A Candlelit Christmas” on Friday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Ostrabrama in Cutchogue, located at 3300 Depot Lane. There is a $20 suggested donation to attend the concert, which is open to all.