The fine arts department changes the key on the holiday concert

Emma Fudacz

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On Thursday, Dec 9, the Fine Arts Department held it’s annual holiday concert.

During the Fine Arts holiday concert, there were many changes made in various aspects about the concert, the most prominent being the absence of the annual performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, which has been a tradition in District 99 since 1923. The Hallelujah Chorus was replaced by a more secular holiday song: Sleigh Ride.

Fine Arts Department Chair Jerry Lowrey detailed why he believed a change in the concert program was merited and necessary.

“Change is inevitable, and one of the things that we wanted to focus on with the new performing arts center is the idea that it’s an opportunity for us to not only honor time-cherished traditions, but it’s also a good idea to start new traditions as well,” Lowrey said.

Choir director Joy Belt-Roselieb added that another reason to change to a different song from the Hallelujah Chorus was so that more of the student musicians would be included in the performance.

“I think it’s important to include all three groups, and [the Hallelujah Chorus] only includes the choir and orchestra. We were looking for a way to have all three groups to be included at the end so we don’t leave out one of the groups,” Belt-Roselieb said.

Many students were also glad for the change in tradition; some were tired of performing the same song many years in a row. Junior and Orchestra member Audrey Lin was excited to learn and perform something new, but wondered if there could be a better song than Sleigh Ride to be the new song that is performed annually.

“I didn’t really like the Hallelujah chorus. I don’t know if [Sleigh Ride] would be the best for an annual piece, just because it’s such a common song,” Lin said.

Usually the holiday concert is accompanied by a holiday assembly for all of the DGS students, but due to COVID-19 and social distancing policies, the assembly was not able to happen this year. Lowrey remarked that even though the holiday assembly was not able to happen this year, the Fine Arts Department is hoping to get back to performing for the student body as soon as possible.

“For obvious reasons, having that many students in one place was just not something we deemed feasible at this time, but in future years we should fully believe that’s a tradition we will continue,” Lowrey said.

Another very visible change to the concert was the location. All of the concerts used to be performed in the large gym at DGS, but now with the new auditorium, the students were able to play their music in a space more suited for performance. Choir director Joy Belt-Roselieb described the benefits of being able to put on the concert in the auditorium.

“Well [the auditorium] is absolutely a spectacular performing venue for any music group. It’s not the gym; the gym is echoey and it’s not built for performances. Plus you don’t have to sit on the bleacher seats,” Belt-Roselieb said.

While the auditorium may be sonically better for musical performance, there were some logistical issues with the transitions between the groups that performed. Lin mentioned some of the cons of the new venue.

“It’s such a confined space, and usually in the gym everything’s already set up. We had to stay in the orchestra room until it was our turn to play,” Lin said.