‘The spirit of the season’

Fine Arts Department plans Christmas performances

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and the Fine Arts Department at Waynesburg University is taking advantage of the Christmas spirit. the department is hosting a series of Christmas concerts, including Tuba Christmas tomorrow, Dec. 6, and the Music Program’s Christmas Concert Saturday, Dec. 7.

“For me, the spirit of the season speaks through the music,” Dr. Ronda DePriest, instructor of music and director of the Symphonic Band, said. “This time of year I have Christmas music playing in the background while I’m [grading papers] just to keep the spirit alive and wake me up to the season.”

The Tuba Christmas performance, which will occur on the Goodwin Performing Arts Center stage tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m., is on stage for the twelfth time since 2008. This musical event will feature different trumpet and horn players performing four-part harmony carols with “lovely overtones,” DePriest described.

Reaching international levels, Tuba Christmas is more than a local gathering, with regional concerts all over the United States.

“Any time you can get in on something that’s going to be presented in over 300 cities during the Christmas season, that’s pretty cool to be a part of,” DePriest said. “It’s bigger than it seems than just the concert on the stage. It’s really become this ‘call to mecca’ for euphonium and tuba players.”

This festive concert allows the audience to participate, as the lyrics to the carols will be shown on the projector screen during the second run-through of the songs.

Following Tuba Christmas this weekend is the Music Program’s Christmas Concert, featuring the Lamplighters Concert Choir. Professor Melanie Catana, music instructor, will lead the choir, and DePriest will lead the Symphonic Band.

“I just can’t imagine Christmas without music,” Catana said. “It plays such a big part to get you in the mood. When you hear a familiar tune, it brings back memories. When you get older, it’s really special to go back to memories and think about Christmas in the past and carry on traditions.”

While the countdown to Christmas continues, hearing Christmas music is almost inevitable. The Symphonic Band and Lamplighters Concert Choir have been rehearsing the festive music since as far back as Halloween.

DePriest noticed a trend within her repertoire for the band. The Star of Bethlehem was a recurring theme in her selected music.

“I started listening to what I think are maybe not the most used Christmas carols and the most sung and played in the season,” DePriest said. “Pretty soon I noticed I had a theme going of the star. All the band pieces have the word ‘star’ in them.”

Saturday’s concert will feature the choir and band each performing their separate seasonal repertoires, until coming together at the end to perform “A Symphony of Carols” arranged by Randol Alan Bass.

The choir will be introducing a lesser known story of the birth of Christ with “Midwife’s Tale” by living composer James Woodman.

“It’s a really big story to tell [the birth of Christ],” Catana said. “It’s been told so many times with very similar songs … I want to find something that’s never been heard before.”

Catana pulled together a choir of five men and 23 women for this semester of concert choir. She commended the men for being able to carry the tenor and bass sections along with the women who help keep balance, despite having the men outnumbered.

“Singing is a very intimate thing. Your instrument is actually inside your body. It’s you. It’s your breath creating sound, creating a beautiful noise, carrying a message,” Catana said. “It’s a pretty amazing phenomenon.”

To join in on the seasonal music festivities, Tuba Christmas will be at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night in the GPAC. The choir and band will be performing the Music Program Christmas Concert in Roberts Chapel on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. where the story of the birth of Christ will be told through music.