Columbus native prepares for slate of holiday concerts

Columbus native Eric Stark’s sense of Christmas spirit overflows about this time of year — at least when it comes to the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir’s Festival of Carols.

“There’s no place like home for the holidays, and this annual musical tradition has become something of a community homecoming for audiences of all ages,” said Stark, the choir’s artistic director.

“I’m particularly excited about world premieres we will give of fresh arrangements of holiday favorites including ‘O Holy Night,’ ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Mary Did You Know’ with two-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Sylvia McNair.”

McNair is almost as well known to local audiences as Stark. She has sung several times in recent years with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and even performed a violin piece.

The choir’s remaining holiday performances are at the Palladium at the Center for Performing Arts in Carmel at 8 p.m. Friday, and at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The 2016 performances of Festival of Carols feature the 200-voice choir, among the largest and oldest choruses in the nation, joined by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.

The choir reaches in excess of 25,000 people each season with more than 25 performances and a comprehensive educational outreach program. The singers demonstrate the choir’s commitment to musical excellence through their talent and dedication during each 42-week season. The choral partner of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Choir was founded in 1937 at the ISO’s request to perform the great choral-orchestral repertoire.

Although the Symphonic Choir is best known for performing classical music, Festival of Carols features a selection of fan-favorite and traditional holiday music performed by the chorus and orchestra.

Stark’s path to music began at First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, although he entertained no thoughts of a career in the field then. Then-church choir director Ray Hass remembered Stark joining one of the church’s singing groups as a fourth-grader. Hass also taught him piano for several years and put Stark in leading roles in the church youth musicals.

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What: Indianapolis Symphonic Choir’s Festival of Carols.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: The Palladium at the Center for Performing Arts, 355 City Center Drive, Carmel.

Tickets: Range from $20 to $40 and may be purchased at or by calling the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir at 317-940-9057 or the Palladium box office at 317-843-3800. Student tickets are available for $15.