Christmas bells are ringing in Waynesburg’s chapel

Courtesy of Ronda DePriest and Melinda Rush

The sound of jingling bells and the smell of hot chocolate are about to fill the air on the campus of Waynesburg University. On Saturday, Dec. 4, the Lamplighter Concert Choir and the Symphonic Band will be joining forces to put on the Music Program’s Christmas Concert.

The concert will feature holiday songs from movies such as “Home Alone”, “Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Rudolph” and tunes from “Glee”, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and other popular songs. 

The choir will be performing first in the concert. Diamond Price, president of the Lamplighter Concert Choir, will be performing a solo in the piece “White Christmas.”

“I have been singing since I was young, maybe around age 5, in community choirs, and then in school choirs,” Price said in an email interview. “At Waynesburg, I have been a member of the touring choir and the concert choir for four years now. I joined when I was a freshman and now I am a senior.”

Price said that although she doesn’t handle too much when it comes to the concerts, her role as president of the Lamplighters was to make sure that the other singers were prepared to go on stage. 

“I am responsible for making sure everyone is comfortable and prepared for our concert,” Price said. “I try to contact people who are absent and really connect with everyone to see how they are feeling.”

The creation of the concert did not come without challenges for the choir.

“The hardest part of putting together this concert is the time,” Price said. “We had a few moments where we wondered if we were ready or not and we had to do the hard thing and cut a few challenging pieces.”

And although a few pieces were cut, Price is still excited to perform.

“I am most excited for “White Christmas” because I have a solo in it and “Somewhere in My Memory” from “Home Alone” because it is so beautiful,” Price said. 

After a brief intermission, the Symphonic Band will take to the stage for their portion of the concert. 

“The band’s going to do everything from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, to The Carpenters, to a really nice arrangement of “Do You Hear What I Hear” that was featured on “Glee”,” Ronda DePriest, professor of instrumental music and director of the music program, said.

President of the Symphonic Band Hannah Jobes worked alongside DePriest in preparations for the concert.

“I have worked on making sure the other officers as well as musicians have their folders, instruments and a musical mindset to work through concert practices,” Jobes said in an email interview.

Jobes, who will be playing the flute, said that the holiday season is one of the reasons for her excitement surrounding this concert.

“I am most excited about being able to celebrate the holiday season along with my peers,” Jobes said. “It is always a great way to end the semester and kick off the holiday season!”

During the band’s portion of the concert, a faculty trio will perform featuring Scott Elliot, Jim DePriest and Camilo Jauregui. Lyrics for the singalong portion will be printed in the program and will be projected on the screen in the Chapel. 

“They’re going to do some internal pieces and some things that the audience can sing along to,” DePriest said.

Annually, the band and choir share the stage for the Christmas concert and the final concert in the spring. The band has been practicing and preparing for the concert since midterms. 

 “Even though it’s going to be a fun thing, the band’s going to be working a little bit,” DePriest said. 

Jobes said the band strove to stay one step ahead in order to work past the difficulties.

“The most challenging part of putting together this concert was figuring out ways to stay one step ahead of our semester plan so that we could incorporate new ways and sounds into this year’s concert,” Jobes said.

DePriest said that with COVID-19 still providing difficulties, she wanted to stretch the band with a few difficult pieces. The other pieces, including the faculty trio, are included to make the concert less stressful and more fun for student players.

“I also want the student population that comes to understand that they can take lessons, they can be a part of that kind of thing here at a liberal arts university,” DePriest said. “I want them to kind of meet the faculty.”

By including the faculty trio, DePriest hopes to not only inspire other students to join, but to also support musicians who might have taken a hit from COVID-19 shutdowns.

“They missed out on a whole lot of income there for a while. So for me, I just thought, “If this is the year I’m going to feature faculty, I need to do it now’,” DePriest said. 

On Friday, Nov. 2, the night before the Christmas concert, the music program will be holding the annual Tuba Christmas concert. The concert will be a Christmas carol singalong with tubas and euphoniums. 

“We started about 10 years ago; we had four players. Two euphoniums and two tubas. Last year we had 36 playing and the audience singing,” DePriest said.

According to DePriest, Tuba Christmas brings in a lot of community members. 

“We get a lot of community in for that and a lot of tuba and euphonium instructors from the area come and play and kids all the way down to junior high. It’s a really neat time,” DePriest said.

Tuba Christmas will perform in Roberts Chapel at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Christmas concert will start at 7:30 p.m. in Roberts Chapel on Saturday. 

As for Price on the choir side, this will be her last Christmas concert at Waynesburg.

“This concert is bittersweet to me, as it will be my last Christmas concert at Waynesburg,” Price said. “I am so grateful to have been a part of this choir since freshman year, and I cherish the moment and the people.”