The Santa Cruz Singers perform “Legends of Christmas,” their first concert in 18 months. Photo by Kay Pitt

After an 18-month hiatus due to COVID-19, the Santa Cruz Singers reunited in September, masked and vaccinated, to prepare for a holiday concert they were unsure they would be able to perform. But on January 6, 2022, the 22 choristers sang joyfully at the Benderly-Kendall Opera House under the direction of Christina Wilhelm. Evan Kory accompanied the group, which is a part of the Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts.

The choir sang a concert version of the opera “Legends of Christmas” by the late Virginia Benderly. 

Benderly was a local resident who actively supported the arts and culture in the area and provided the seed money to build the Opera House, which opened in 2017.

According to Foundation Director Christina Wilhelm, “Virginia was a woman of many talents but music was her greatest passion. Her mother was a concert pianist and Gini learned her skill at the keyboard from her. In later years she developed an interest in the harp and studied with Caroll McLaughlin, Professor of Music at U of A. She wrote poems which turned into beautiful songs, and stories that became mini operas – like ‘Legends of Christmas,’ a novel approach to the traditional Christmas tales of the Christ child.”

The Singers plan to start rehearsals in February for a spring concert. Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to visit