Wesley Encores Bring in Christmas Cheer

Wesley’s resident chorus delights Tree of Lights guests with classic Christmas carols and holiday songs.

Every year, Wesley communities host the Tree of Lights holiday celebrations dedicated to honoring loved ones.

This is the second year the Wesley Encores resident chorus has performed at the Des Moines Tree of Lights since the group’s inception in September 2016. Lead by Wesley Music Coordinator Leslie Lehnhoff, this mixed choral ensemble is made up of 45 residents.

“Being in the Wesley Encores has been both fun and challenging,” said resident Paul Beeman.

Paul is a retired minister and has been a resident of Wesley Homes Des Moines since 1999. In 2000, he and a few others organized The Padres, a quartet comprised of retired pastors. At one point, the group grew to include a total of 21 male singers who performed at Wesley Homes Des Moines until the group’s last performance in December 2015.

When the Wesley Encores was formed shortly after, many residents, including both men and women, jumped at the opportunity to join the chorus.

“It was great to see so much interest so early on and to see that interest sustained,” said Leslie.

“We have a very capable group of dedicated singers, and while many of us are not professionals, Leslie is a marvelous conductor and musician. She has kept everyone engaged and committed to performing in the group,” said Paul.

The Wesley Encores performed songs, such as “Christmas Sanctus”, “Coventry Carol” and “White Christmas”. They also performed “Little Drummer Boy” with the Wesley Drum Circle and student resident Anthony Austin.

The evening also featured an unique hand bell performance lead by Martin Culbert, director of Program and Music Ministries at the Des Moines United Methodist Church. Many of those performing had never played the hand bells before but played with impeccable quality after only a few rehearsals.

“We’re all proud of what Leslie and the residents here have accomplished,” said Wesley Homes Des Moines Executive Director Alex Candalla.

“The chorus has provided an opportunity for residents here to show their passion and become involved in something really special.”

Check out our video of the Wesley Encores chorus on our YouTube channel.