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Upcoming student concerts will bring seasonal favorites

Members of the Celebration Chorus, comprised of fourth- through sixth-grade Worthington public school students, perform Thursday morning under the direction of Jeanne Mammen at The Meadows in Worthington. (Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — It’s beginning to look a lot like a very musical month in Worthington, with all of District 518’s several hundred student musicians scheduled to share spirited tunes in upcoming December concerts.

On Monday, Worthington High School (WHS) singers and instrumentalists blaze the trail with a 7 p.m. concert in the school’s gymnasium.

Prairie Elementary follows, with three concerts (at 8:45 a.m., 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) on Dec. 11, while Worthington Middle School (WMS) shares its Festival of Music at 7 p.m. Dec. 16. Prairie’s individual kindergarten classrooms will also present the program “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” at various times on Dec. 16 and 17.

“We’re looking forward to performing this December concert,” said Kerry Johnson, WHS choral director. “It’s always fun to sing holiday music — that and the snow really get kids in the spirit of the season.”

Johnson’s Concert Choir is slated to sing “Carol of the Bells,” “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” “Christmas Lullaby” and “Go, Tell It on the Mountain” with soloist Rachel Van Dyke.

“The Trojan Choir is singing a ‘Grinch’ medley and ‘Believe’ from ‘Polar Express,’ as well as variations on ‘Fa La La,’” Johnson said. “The select ensemble Trojan Express is also doing two numbers.”

Jon Loy’s 124-member WHS Trojan band will perform the evocative “Polar Express” medley, “Fanfare for Christmas,” “C’est Noel” and the classic “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson.

“Our pieces depict a lot of traditional carols of the season,” Loy explained. “But there is great seasonal music being performed by all of the WHS music groups.”

Indeed, WHS orchestra instructor Melanie Loy’s string students have Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto” on the program, along with Robert Longfield’s “The Blessing.”

“The Corelli piece consists of multiple short movements in varying tempos and keys, and ‘The Blessing’ is a contemporary tune,” she said. “We will finish with Larry Clark’s arrangement of ‘Carol of the Bells and Greensleeves,’ which has become a perennial favorite of the orchestra.”

Melanie Loy is also part of the music contingent preparing students at WMS for the Dec. 16 concert. Her 37 seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra students will collaborate on “Dance of the Tumblers” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” while the 41 sixth-grade orchestra members will present Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and “A Christmas Canon.”

Forty-three fifth-grade orchestra students, directed by Aimon Dwan, will play “Ode to Joy,” “Up on the Housetop” and “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.”

“I’m especially excited about this concert because the fifth-graders are now performing multi-part music rather than all unison pieces,” Dwan said.

The approximately 180 students in Mike Andersen’s sixth- through eighth-grade bands will deliver, respectively, “In Dulcimer Jubilo,” “Joyous Yuletide” (highlighting the low brass and low woodwinds of the seventh-grade group) and an arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”

Also, 60 fifth-grade band members (under the direction of Jeanette Jenson) will perform “Up on the Housetop” and “Feliz Navidad,” the latter of which Andersen arranged.

“The students love ‘Feliz Navidad,’ which features Latin percussion instruments,” Jenson said.

WMS choral students, led by Cindy Anderson, similarly have a full musical agenda.

“My 80 sixth-graders are singing ‘What Kind of King’ and ‘Festive Processional,’ which is a madrigal style tune with accompanying tambourine, flute, crotales and hand drum,” Anderson said.

Her seventh-graders, numbering 82 in all, are singing in three parts on “Who Would Imagine a King” and “He is Born,” while the 98 eighth-grade choristers are polishing a toe-tapping “In Excelsis Deo” and the four-part “The Lights of December.”

“I always enjoy the Festival of Music because it heralds in the season that is upon us,” Anderson said.

Not to be outdone, the younger musicians at Prairie Elementary will shine in three concerts on Dec. 11 — three sections of the fourth- grade orchestra students, directed by Dwan, will perform, as will the 30-voice Celebration Chorus, directed by Jeanne Mammen and accompanied by Debra Moe.

“We’ve been rehearsing with Celebration Chorus since late September,” Mammen reported. “They have several seasonal tunes, including ‘Just One Candle,’ ‘The Christmas Clock,’ a novelty tune about ‘Mrs. Claus’ and a Hanukkah piece titled ‘Make a Little Music.’

“We end each concert with a sing-along of familiar holiday songs to include all students, staff and audience members.”

Moe, Mammen and Linda VanWesten have all been preparing the Prairie kindergartners for their “Twas the Night Before Christmas” program, which Moe says is new this year and features classic holiday songs.

“The kindergartners have been working on it since the beginning of November and are enjoying learning music of the season, bringing their boundless energy to the holidays,” Moe said.

The District 518 music staff hopes parents, families and the general public will take the time to attend at least one of the upcoming concerts for which so many student musicians have rehearsed.

Urged Jon Loy, “Celebrate with our music departments as together we usher in the season of love, hope and peace.”

The WHS Festival of Music is Monday at 7 p.m. in the WHS gymnasium; there is an admission fee, and District 518 activity passes will be honored. Prairie Elementary hosts concerts at 8:45 a.m., 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 11; there is no admission fee. The WMS Festival of Music is Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., also at the WHS gymnasium; there is no admission fee. For more information about the Dec. 16/17 kindergarten class performances of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” contact Prairie Elementary at 727-1250.