By Tom Loughlin Jr.

Opera singer Leonarda Priore has brought the Chelsea Opera company, from New York City, to her Utica hometown for several years in a row, making “Bending Towards the Light, a Jazz Nativity” an Advent/Christmas tradition at St. Mary of Mount Carmel/Blessed Sacrament Parish in Utica.

Priore annually dedicates the performance to her late brother, local attorney and singer Nicholas Priore, and acknowledges a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for making the event possible.

The show, composed by Anne Phillips, characterizes the Savior’s birth as light piercing the darkness of life in hard times and providing inextinguishable encouragement for humanity to let its own “light” illuminate the world.

On Dec. 9, different styles were used in interpretations of Christmas classics from pop to sacred standards, including a haunting saxophone in “Silent Night” and a rollicking Dixieland version of  “Joy to the World.”

Chelsea’s “The Royal Bopsters” and the St. Mary of Mount Carmel/Blessed Sacrament Choir provided vocals.

  The “Three Kings” left the gold, frankincense and myrrh at home and instead brought a sax, a trumpet and some serious tap-dancing skills as their gifts for the newborn King.

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