Growing up in war-torn Germany shortly after World War II, Rolf Depre said his family often made a Christmas tree because they couldn’t afford to buy one.
Despite the hardships that his family faced while he was young, Depre said Christmas still holds a warm place in his heart.
“It’s always a special time of the year as I remember as a child,” Depre said. “That was the high time when you grew up.”
Depre, who said he has lived off and on in the United States for the past 40 years, was one of several hundred people who attended the annual Christmas concert that was held Saturday afternoon at Trinity Lutheran Church on Randolph Avenue in Hagerstown.
Depre said the music was even more special to him this year because his 18-year-old daughter, Andrea, was part of the choir.
The concert was performed by Hagerstown Choral Arts Inc., a local choir that performs various shows throughout the year.
“The Christmas concert is our biggest audience,” said Greg Shook, artistic and musical director of Hagerstown Choral Arts Inc.
Shook said he and another local musician, Ned Wetherald, started the chorus in the early 1990s because Hagerstown lacked an established choral group.
“He and I decided to start a choir to see if it would go, and here we are 20 years later,” Shook said.
The chorus had about 35 members when it was formed, he said, but it has grown to about 50 members today.
Suzanne Hayes, a Hagerstown Choral Arts Inc. board member, said Trinity Lutheran Church offers a large venue with exceptional acoustics.
Hayes said that for her, attending the annual concert is part of her pre-Christmas routine.
“You have to wrap presents, and you have to come to this concert,” she said.
Hagerstown Choral Arts was joined Saturday by the Hub City Brass and the Capital Carillon Handbell Choir.
Editor's note: This story was edited Dec. 9, 2012, to correct the name of Hagerstown Choral Arts' artistic and musical director.