MUNSTER | It was a silvery scene at the 25th annual Festival of Trees luncheon Wednesday hosted by the Women's Association of the Northwest Indiana Symphony.
More than 400 guests filled the Center for Visual and Performing Arts to share the holiday spirit and celebrate a quarter century of support for the Northwest Indiana Symphony orchestra, chorus, youth orchestra and educational and cultural programming.
The day started with guests admiring the 25 Christmas trees decorated by businesses and civic groups while voting for their favorites and shopping the Boulevard of Shoppes. The wassail bowl lent a festive touch to the day, as did entertainment by The Sounds of A cupella, a vocal ensemble costumed for the holidays.
The Munster Garden Club captured first place in the tree design contest with its "Gifts From the Garden" entry, while Dixon's Florist placed second with "Over the river and through the woods." A new entrant, the Dyer Historical Society, earned third-place honors with "Rooted in the Past."
Christine Small, general chair of the Festival of Trees Committee, welcomed the attendees, who also received a personal "thank you" for their support from NISO Conductor Kirk Muspratt.
After a gourmet lunch topped off with white lemon cake and fresh berries, the day's featured artist, Kara Bershad, took the stage.
Bershad, professor of harp at North Park University and The Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, is the principal harpist with NISO. She also performs with the Chicago and Grant Park symphony orchestras and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, has accompanied a number of famous vocalists and performed on several film scores.
In a salute to the 25th anniversary event, Bershad opened with "Silver Bells," and continued the Christmas theme with "What Child Is This?" and "The Christmas Song," as well as showing her range with "Variations pastorales sur un vieux noël" by Marcel Samuel-Rousseau, a piece she learned specifically for the luncheon, she told the audience.
The NWI Symphony Orchestra, joined by the symphony chorus and the Eisenhower Elementary School Choir from Crown Point, presented its Holiday Pops Concert Dec. 12 at the Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville. Call (219) 836-0525 or visit www.nisorchestra.org for information about upcoming concerts.