In celebration of the passing of the holiday season, Williston Park’s Church of St. Aidan will be holding a free will offering Christmas concert, “The Promise of Christmas,” on Sunday, Jan. 5, at 3:00 p.m.
The music will be performed by a full orchestra with a chorus, conducted by the church’s music director, Drago Bubalo. The orchestra will be performing both religious and Christmas music.
“[The concert] is a Broadway-style Christmas cantata,” Bubalo said. According to Bubalo, the concert was composed by Mary McDonald, who had recently composed a performance at Carnegie Hall. McDonald has published over 1,000 choral anthems, cantatas and keyboard collections throughout her career.
The Church of St. Aidan’s choir was invited to perform the cantata “Love Transcending” at Carnegie Hall in 2017 by the Carnegie Hall Artistic Committee” after the choir submitted a 2016 performance to them.
Bubalo views McDonald very highly when it comes to Broadway-style music. “Sometimes I think her work is even better than that of [Andrew] Lloyd Weber,” Bubalo said.
One of the main reasons this Christmas concert will be taking place on the first Sunday of 2020 is because it allows people to celebrate the holidays without having to worry about things like Christmas shopping or parties.
The play’s conductor, Drago Bubalo, may be taking an interesting commute from his home in upstate Montgomery, New York to Long Island. Bubalo could be flying his own plane for the commute.
According to Bubalo, he flies his plane to work “once or twice a week.” The fact that he owns a pilot’s license and can operate a plane has helped turn an 80-mile trip into a 25-minute commute. When he’s not working for the church, Bubalo may be operating his flight school in West Point with his wife.
Music and flying have been two of Bubalo’s biggest interests for a long time. He began learning how to play the piano at the age of six while growing up in Croatia. “My father sang in the church choir, and I started to play at early morning mass when I was 15,” Bubalo said.
After working as an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati for approximately 10 years, Bubalo went back to Croatia following the country’s Homeland War. He served mainly as a band director for the country’s army, but also served as a translator and in the Croatian Air Force. His main responsibility with the air force was engineering for transport planes.
Bubalo performed as a member of a band for four years before getting a job as a chorus opera director at “Croatia National Opera.” Eventually, he returned to the United States in 2002.
Bubalo views church music as a big part of connecting communities. “It keeps people together in the church,” Bubalo said. “When you have band music and bring it to a Christmas concert, it’s always positive. I just like that aspect of music because of the spirituality and positive emotions it brings.”