Celebration of sound: Eclectic mix of local artists to perform on stage

A group of local musical talents will perform in “A Celebration of Song and Sound” at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Church in the Middle of the Block, 217 Fifth Ave., Altoona.

Charlotte Ames Eichelberger is a familiar local journalist, but a big headline in her personal life right now is her role in the upcoming musical show.

She and other community leaders and artists will be featured.

Her husband, John Eichelberger, the former State Senator and Blair County Commissioner, will join his wife in a duet, he on the trumpet, and she on the piano.

Both are veteran musicians, Ames Eichelberger on the organ and piano and Eichelberger having toured with Drum Corps International Blue Stars and Up with People.

“I knew a number of talented musicians locally, and the opportunity to present to the community with them was an exciting idea,” said Terry Tomassetti. “Plus, there is no better location than the Church in the Middle of the Block. It is such a special venue for performances of this kind, providing an intimate and refreshing setting for an evening of song.”

Local artist John Rita suggested the program, and Tomassetti jumped at the opportunity to organize it.

“We look forward to the evening,” Rita said. “It is the type of program we are looking to present more often at the Church, and we are pleased that Terry took this project on and will be singing again.”

For “A Celebration of Song and Sound,” Tomassetti will be re-uniting with soprano Anne Marie Longwill who sings with the Blair Concert Chorale and was active in local theater for many years.

“Anne Marie and I used to perform together in the early ’80s,” said Tomassetti. “We look forward to singing together again, this time performing the popular duet ‘Time to Say Goodbye.'”

Other singers scheduled for the event include Christopher Cook and his daughter, Parker.

Cook is one of the area’s premier musical theater performers, said Tomassetti. This past summer, he portrayed Judas in the State College-based FUSE Productions presentation of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

Cook will sing The Soliloquy from “Les Miserables” and “The Prayer” in a duet with Parker.

Besides the duet with her dad, Parker will also sing “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables.”

In addition to the Eichelbergers, pianist Cindy Rita, bagpiper Shawn Gority, and violinist Maureen Verzella will be the featured instrumentalists.

“We are so fortunate to have Cindy accompany our many vocal selections,” Tomassetti said. “Cindy’s sensitive playing has earned her the praise of the many singers, choirs and directors she has worked with.”

Cindy Rita, who has a master’s degree in Sacred Music, was the accompanist for 10 years for the Ivyside Pride Choir and for the musical theater program at Penn State Altoona.

“Shawn Gority is such a talent on the bagpipes and his Irish folk tunes will be a treat!” Tomassetti said.

Gority’s resume includes numerous performances with the award-winning Irish traditional band The Chieftains and has played at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Verzella, a retired music teacher in the Altoona Area School District, will perform duet selections with Cindy Rita. A violinist, Verzella is a longtime member of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and the Allegro String Quartet.

There is no admission charge for “A Celebration of Song and Sound.”

If you go

What: “A Celebration of Song and Sound”

Where: The Church in the Middle of the Block, 217 Fifth Ave., Altoona

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free