CHS Choir and Band Concerts Deliver the Christmas Magic
Christmas came early this year in the form of two magical evenings of music. On Thursday, December 7th, the CHS Choir, under the direction of the dedicated and talented Mary Ann Russell, gave the gift of song to an appreciative audience.
The concert began with a beautiful piano solo by Ms. Joliet Shuff titled “Rainy Song” that evoked a stark, winter landscape. Then Beginning Choir launched into a series of Christmas songs, some familiar, some unusual. The Latin-flavored “Cantar” was particularly lovely with guest accompanists Stephen Hurston on trumpet and Damian Sheldon on drums.
The Women’s Chorus continued the theme of mixing time-honored favorites and modern pieces. “Various Themes on Fa-La-La” was demanding vocally, asking the singers to begin each verse with the traditional “Fa-La-La” melody then shift to a completely different, but recognizable, tune. The ladies of the Women’s Chorus adapted seamlessly to the challenging piece, singing with gusto and humor.
For lovers of Christmas music, however, the highlight of the evening was the Concert Choir’s rendition of Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” For this haunting ballad, the theater was darkened, the only light emanating from the candles held by the singers (and the many phone screens held up by the audience as friends and family filmed!).
The CHS Band Christmas Concert followed a week later, Thursday, December 14th. Early arrivals were treated to a selection of jazz classics performed by the CHS Jazz Band, as well as Mr. Patrick Bordelon’s amusing “roast” of drummer and All-State Jazz Band honoree, Christian Thompson, who posed the interesting question: do Converse Chuck Taylors classify as dress shoes?
Spirits were light as members introduced Christmas favorites including “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” and “Feliz Navidad.” Each musician had several opportunities to showcase his or her talent during improvised solos, but the back-and-forth musical battle between Stephen Hurston on trumpet and Darwin Bergeron on alto sax was extraordinarily entertaining.
After a quick set change, the Percussion Ensemble performed two pieces under the direction of Mr. James Henderson. The first selection, “Angels We Have Heard on High,” was truly ethereal, the bell-like notes of the idiophones evocative of angels’ voices. The second, “Christmas Presence,” lived up to its name—a Christmas “present” for the audience.
Another present for the audience: the arrival of two sprightly Christmas elves, Hannah Moses and Mackenzie Whittington, who emceed the rest of the show. The Concert Band said farewell to student teacher Mr. Tuck who directed the classic “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.” Disney’s “Moana” was an unusual but very popular selection, destined to be a classic.
The Symphonic Band showed its range with the stirring martial strains of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Procession of the Nobles,” then softened tone for the touching “Silent Night.” Despite the pitiful efforts of volunteer conductor, the musically-challenged assistant principal, Lynn Younger (yours truly), “Christmas on Parade” was a resounding success. The rollicking “Sleigh Ride,” complete with clippity-cloppity hooves and other sound effects, brought the evening to a spirited conclusion.
Thanks to the talented CHS Choir, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, Concert Band, and Symphonic Band for the amazing gift of two incredible nights of memorable music!