The Music School of Delaware's Milford Branch has an early stocking-stuffer for the community this weekend.

The Music School of Delaware's Milford Branch has an early stocking-stuffer for the community this weekend.

The school's gift will be its second consecutive Christmas concert, a series titled "Tis A Winter's Evening," held at Avenue United Methodist Church on Friday.

The program is decorated in holiday favorites, traditional and familiar Christmas tunes, as well as sing-alongs and original music. Special guest performers for Tis A Winter's Evening are Milford's own barbershop choir, the First State Harmonizers. Admission is free, but a freewill donation would be appreciated.

"Tis A Season" is a holiday joyride that will begin with quieter, softer holiday staples, before gradually progressing to more colorful, upbeat numbers.

"We're starting with some more cerebral type of pieces that are more introspective and very solitary, very quiet," said Milford Branch Director Layne Thompson-Payne. "Then we'll end up with the [big], bang, boom of 'Jingle Bells,' 'Here Comes Santa Claus' and 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas.'"

A new piece the audience will hear for the first time will be one titled "(Ave Maria) That Warm Christmas Feeling is Here," composed by John Meary, of Rehoboth Beach.

Thompson-Payne, who's spearheading the concert with Music School guitar instructor Nathan Ames, described "That Warm Christmas" as a beautiful, although simple, piece comprised of piano and vocals with lyrics that evoke the anticipatory excitement people share for the arrival of Christmas.

"It's a very lovely melody," she said.

One of the tunes the First State Harmonizers will perform in Tis A Winter's Evening is "O Holy Night," which the group will sing with Thompson-Payne.

Harry Humes, who'll take over as the Harmonizer's president in January, raved about Thompson-Payne's golden pipes.

"It's beautiful," said Humes, of Milford. "[She has] a lyric soprano voice."

Humes, a bass singer, isn't too shabby either.

Thompson-Payne likened his voice to that of Thurl Ravenscroft, the famous vocalist behind the song "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" from the classic holiday cartoon "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" She added Humes can do a pretty mean impersonation of Ravenscroft as well.

"They're so hysterical," Thompson-Payne complimented of the Harmonizers. "It's just so much fun to sing with them because they have a love for this type of music, and it shows."

Having the honor to treat the people to festive tunes is priceless to Humes and his brethren.

"We enjoy singing Christmas carols, and we enjoy getting people to sing along with us," said the 80-year-old Humes, who's been crooning holiday songs with the Harmonizers and other barbershop choirs for three decades. "It's a community event and it gets people into the spirit Christmas."

At the same, "it gets us into the Christmas spirit as well," Humes said.


WHAT "Tis A Winter Evening" presented by the Music School of Delaware Milford Branch

WHEN 7 p.m., Friday

WHERE Avenue United Methodist Church, 20 N. Church Ave., Milford

COST Free admission is free, but a freewill donation would be appreciated.

INFO Visit or call 422-2043