Choir, Orchestra Combine to Deliver Holiday Songs

Bailey Armosky , Heritage Assistant Editor

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  • The combined men’s choirs rehearse backstage before the concert.

  • The Symphony Orchestra perform their pieces under the conduction of Mr. Jacob Thompson.

  • Orchestra students anticipate their next cue during their performance.

  • The combined Concert choirs rehearse their piece ‘Stars I Shall Find.’

  • The Men’s choir practices their song ‘Twelve Days of Christmas,’ made popular by the acappella group Straight No Chaser.

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While in the past members of the orchestra program have been the accompaniment for choir concerts, this year the choir and Symphony orchestra held a joint Winter Concert on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Round Rock ISD Performing Arts Center. The combination of the two groups and selection of music performed made for a great change from their traditional holiday concerts.

“I’d definitely say that in the past there hasn’t been that much overlap between the different music fine arts, and I think that us playing with them was a big step,” Lindsey Adams ‘19 said. “It’s my last year, and I only just found out how incredible these musicians are.”

The concert began with the Symphony Orchestra, lead by head director Mr. Jacob Thompson and associate director Mr. Justin Anderson, with their performances of Final (Tema Russo) from Serenade for Strings and Andante from Symphony no.94. Their third piece, Fargo al factotum from the Barber of Seville, featured a guest singer, David Small, who is the Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Texas Butler School of Music.

“The music we performed at the concert was really different from anything I’ve done before especially since one of the pieces was with choir and one with an opera singer which was really enjoyable,” Victoria Chandler ‘20 said. “Performing with choir for the first time was really fun and a new experience for me and I thought Mr. Small was a great link between the two arts as well.”

Combining the two groups allowed for the integration of strings into some of the choir’s pieces. Two of the Chamber Choir’s songs, Ecce Novum and Glow, featured a few select members of the orchestra, and the piece Dixit Dominus was performed by all the women in choir joined by the Symphony orchestra.

“I loved that choir and orchestra came together to do a concert together and that both groups got to see what the other group does,” Anna Wicker ‘20 said. “Being apart of both I thought was really special and I loved knowing that in a way I was sort of bridging both groups together because I was able to answer questions for Mr. Clark and I hope we can do more choir and orchestra events in the future.”

For students new to the choir program, this was their first time performing with orchestra and other choirs besides their class. For this concert, the Concert Women, Concert Men, and Concert Mixed choirs performed Stars I Shall Find as one large combined group.

“Singing with basses and tenors was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed the collaboration between all of us,” Anushka Mazumdar ‘22 said. “There’s a lot more teamwork involved when we sing with the orchestra, since we all have to focus harder on listening to each other.”

In addition to Dixit Dominus, the Varsity Women also performed two pieces, S’vivon, a traditional Jewish song, and This Little Babe. Their selection of music were in contrast to the slowly paced melodic sound of the previous groups pieces.

“Both our pieces were very fast and had really cool staggered entrances which set our class apart from everyone else,” Tristan Salemme ‘20 said. “I love when we get to stand out and sing interesting songs.”

The combined men’s choirs brought the bright, fun spirit of the holidays with a unique, comical version of Twelve Days of Christmas by Richard Gregory and Ken Purchase. The piece was popularized by acapella group Straight No Chaser and features the tunes and lyrics of seven popular holiday songs along with Africa by Toto.

“It was one of the funnest songs I’ve ever sung because it was a mix of so many holiday songs and there were fun parts where the tenors would interrupt the basses with a new song,” Luccian Tripon ‘21 said. “Hearing the audience laugh made the whole performance so much fun.”

To conclude the night, choir performed The Lord Bless You and Keep You and Carol of the Bells. For these pieces, any alumni in the audience were welcomed on stage to sing.

“The winter concert is always really special, especially because we sing Carol of the Bells and The Lord Bless You and Keep You, we bring up all the alumni,” Adams said. “It’s just kind of crazy to see all these people who were once part of my choir and are now college kids, and they’re off doing their own things and overall it was a really great experience.”