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Start the season off on a festive note with a holiday concert featuring the ASU Symphony Orchestra and Choirs

Photo by Tim Trumble.

November 23, 2015

Get into a joyful spirit this season with the Holiday Music Festival on Dec. 4 at ASU Gammage. This performance blends voices from the ASU Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Barrett Choir, Gospel Choir, Concert Choir, Choral Union and Chamber Singers with instrumentalists from the ASU Symphony Orchestra in a jubilant evening highlighting a variety of musical styles.

The concert will be conducted by Bart Evans, faculty associate in choral music; David Schildkret, director of choral activities; Jason Thompson, assistant professor of music education; Julie Neish, Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting student; and Jason Caslor, associate director of bands and orchestras.

Audiences will relish the lilting melodies of the concert’s more traditional seasonal works, and be inspired by the selection of fresh, contemporary arrangements. The pieces on the varied concert program range from ancient Hebrew melodies and sacred Christian literature, to holiday carols, upbeat gospel pieces and brand-new works written by School of Music faculty and alumni.

“I love hearing all our choirs on the same program,” says Evans, who will conduct the Concert Choir and Men’s Chorus. “Each ensemble has its own sound and particular style of community. I also love the opportunity for our singers to perform with an orchestra. Performing in Gammage is a privilege that our singers must have while they are students at ASU.”

The first half of the concert is made up of 10-minute sets from five of the choirs, with each performing about three pieces. The second half blends the talents of both the choirs and the orchestra.

“The holiday season is a unique time for gospel music and fans who love it,” says Thompson, director of the Gospel Choir. “While there are so many staple gospel tunes for the Christmas season, I’m looking forward to showcasing some new gospel music for the season that’s not traditionally done, including two of my own pieces.”

The first work to be performed by the Women’s Chorus, “Ave Maria,” was written by Master of Vocal Performance alumnus Vassilios Makavos, and the subsequent pieces feature the ASU Pitchforks, who are invited guest artists for this concert. “We wanted to bring new music to share with the audience that celebrates the season, but is new and fresh and interesting,” says Neish, the director of the Women’s Chorus.

The ASU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Caslor, opens the second half of the program with the Polonaise from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “Christmas Eve,” a work that combines Ukrainian folklore with mythological beliefs. “Taken from the opera he composed in 1894-1895 about the winter solstice, the Polonaise highlights Rimsky-Korsakov’s gift for orchestral colors and showcases all the sections of the ensemble,” says Caslor.

A main goal in planning this performance was to select festive music that would create collaboration between the orchestra and choirs and include as many participants as possible.

“Haydn’s ‘Te Deum’ was an easy choice because it is one of the most joyful and exuberant pieces in the repertory,” says Schildkret, who will conduct this work as well as the group performances by the Choral Union and Barrett Choir. “We wanted to end the concert with something familiar that would bring all of the performers together, so we picked ‘The Many Moods of Christmas,’ which is a collection of beautiful settings of well-known Christmas carols.”

Although the choirs and orchestras are made up mostly of students, they also include community members who are in the group just for the love of music and performing.

“I am most looking forward to the way this event helps to forge communities and connections,” says Schildkret. “All seven of our choral groups and both of our orchestras are participating: In all, there will be some 400 performers. They include students, faculty and staff from all over the university and also some local residents. When we sing and play this festive music for our audience, that too forges a community.”

Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m.
Location: ASU Gammage 
$5–$10, plus applicable fees 
For ticket information call 480.965.3434 or go here.

Public Contact: 
Heather Beaman
School of Music Communications Liaison