Fine and Performing Arts department presents… 2023 Holiday Choir Concert!

Fine and Performing Arts department presents… 2023 Holiday Choir Concert!

On Dec. 12-13, 2023, the choirs and co-curricular ensembles performed in front of a full house in the annual Holiday Choir Concert in the Butler Lake Auditorium, conducted by Dr. Jeff Brown, director of choirs.

Dr. Brown, who has been teaching choir for 23 years at LHS, conducts the choirs throughout the concert primarily through hand gestures and a baton. (Rishi Tipparti)

Behind the performance was weeks of hard work and dedication from choir students in all 4 grades to perform for the audience, which primarily consisted of families and senior citizens from the local community.

“A lot of effort is put in when we start rehearsals,” Dr. Brown said. “Usually, a concert cycle is about 8 weeks – we started learning the music in mid-October.

“We started learning things early because it takes time for the singers to get comfortable with things like memorization, learning how the harmonies sound and how the rhythms go, and getting comfortable with singing through each song from beginning to end. It takes some time.”

The choirs performed various songs, from “GRINCH: A Christmas Choral Medley” to classic pieces like the Hallelujah Chorus and “Silent Night.”

“[The Holiday Concert] holds such a special place in my heart especially,” senior Charlie Tomlinson said. “It’s just so creative and fun, and less of a serious choir concert and has a variety of themes. Dr. Brown did a perfect job picking out songs.”

Tomlinson has been involved in choir since 5th grade, including all four years at LHS, and performed in the concert as a part of the concert choir.

One such song was “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – performed by Bel Canto, a choir consisting entirely of girls from the class of 2025 – during which junior Isabella Abou Chakra performed a solo.

Junior Isabella Abou Chakra sings her solo piece in the song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Mark Hayes, performed by Bel Canto. “Choir is something I love,” Abou Chakra said. “I’ve been practicing for around two weeks or so before we performed, and I’m super grateful.” (Rishi Tipparti)

“I’ve always loved music, and this is my first big solo, which was both super exciting and nerve-wracking,” Abou Chakra said. “Everyone in choir is a very talented singer, so it would have been great no matter what, but I’m super grateful it was me.”

Abou Chakra has been involved in choir in elementary school, eighth grade, and since her sophomore year at LHS. She has also played the piano for ten years.

“Isabella did a wonderful job during her performance,” Dr. Brown said. “It was a beautiful solo. I enjoy [“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”] because it’s just soprano and alto voices, has a beautiful piano part and the way the chords and harmonies change is luscious.

“I have done the piece before – it’s one I’ve known for years, and it felt like the right time to do it with that particular class since they sing very well and are attentive to many musical concepts and things.”

Abou Chakra intends to continue pursuing music after high school as part of a choir during her college experience and hopes to “keep playing piano until [she] physically can’t anymore.”

The combined was a combined effort from not only the four choirs and co-curricular ensembles like the Cleftomaniacs but also accompanists senior Catherine Harrison, who played the flute; senior Owen Gohr, who played the electric bass; and seniors Matthew Reichard and John Nelson, who played the drums.

Staff accompanist Mrs. Claire Dixon played the piano throughout the concert.

“The job of any accompanist is to guide and support the musicians through their performance,” Mrs. Dixon said. “It’s kind of like the supporting actor role.

“As for our process, we always start out with me supporting the singers [by playing their part first] so they get used to their part and what they’re supposed to sound like. Then, I segue into adding my accompaniment part, which is usually different, to get the finished product similar to what we played in the concert.”

Mrs. Dixon has played the piano since she was six years old and has pursued music as a lifelong career, playing as an accompanist at LHS for eight years.

Staff accompanist Mrs. Claire Dixon plays the piano as the choirs sing throughout the concert. Mrs. Dixon has studied Piano Performance for both her bachelor’s in New York and master’s degree at Northwestern University.
(Rishi Tipparti)

“As always, I’m very proud of the students,” she said. “They put a lot of effort working on performances in a short period between concerts.

“I especially love the Holiday Concert because it brings everyone together, and there’s a lot of really beautiful music that gets everyone ready for the holiday season. You don’t necessarily have to be in choir to come and sing for that – it’s for everyone who wants to sing, and that’s always fun.”

Towards the end of the show, the four choirs – and audience members who have known and sung the piece and were invited to join them – gathered on stage to sing the Hallelujah Chorus together.

Members of the audience join the choirs onstage to sing the Hallelujah Chorus by G.F. Handel. “It’s an old song, around 500 years old,” Dr. Brown said. “But it’s withstood the test of time and is still performed a lot.”
(Rishi Tipparti)

“The Hallelujah Chorus is challenging because it’s very high and long, so it takes a lot of effort and extra work to become familiar with it,” Dr. Brown said.

“It’s a tradition I inherited from previous directors here, one that has been going on since probably the 1970s. The community enjoys the performance and coming up and singing, too.

“It’s an old song, around 500 years old, but it’s withstood the test of time and is still performed a lot, so I think it’s important to do from a historical perspective. I’m going to keep it going.”

Toward the concert’s end, the choirs all come together carrying candles to perform “Silent Night,” complete with night-like lighting and projections of the stars and moon around the auditorium. “My favorite part of the concert is when we’re all down on the aisle singing ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Blessing,’” junior Isabella Abou Chakra said. “It’s serene, and I love it.”
(Rishi Tipparti)

The concert ended with all the choirs coming together to perform “Silent Night” by Franz Gruber, as the auditorium lights dimmed and the singers walked down the aisles, gathering on stage carrying candles to complete the atmosphere.

“My favorite part of the concert was when the singers were all on stage together and sang as a big group on stage together,” Dr. Brown said.

“Learning the German verse of ‘Silent Night’ is not easy, so it takes a lot of effort and extra work to become familiar with. I’m proud of the singers.”

“I think we did phenomenal,” senior Lou Matulenko, who has been doing choir since their sophomore year and hopes to pursue art teacher education in college, said. “I think there are so many talented people in the choir, and I love the feel of the Christmas concert because it’s super cozy, and festive lights surround you. It’s like stepping into the room knowing there’s always a place for you.”

The choirs will perform in the Cabaret Choir concert on Feb. 29, 2024, and will travel to Sicily, Italy, during spring break of 2025.

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