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Holiday concert to showcase WMS talent

WORTHINGTON -- Students will blend sacred and secular tunes from three winter holidays and demonstrate the musical principles they've learned at Worthington Middle School's holiday concert, starting at 7 p.m. today at the Worthington High School.

"It's going to be awesome," said Michael Andersen, director of the sixth- through eighth-grade bands.

"It will put you in a festive mood," added Cindy Anderson, director of the sixth- through eighth-grade choirs.

The fifth- and sixth-grade orchestra will play "Hanukkah Song" and the sixth-grade choir will sing "Kwanzaa Celebration," which describes what Kwanzaa stands for -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperation, purpose, creativity and faith.

The concert will provide an opportunity for the audience to get into the holiday spirit, but it will also provide students with a chance to show the audience what they've learned.

"There are so many things we work on -- good air production, how to have a supported sound, and being able to sing in more than one part," Anderson said.

Multi-part harmonies are something students work up to during their years in middle school, with sixth-graders focusing on singing in unison and in two parts. Near the end of the year, they may try some three-part singing, which will help prepare them for seventh-grade choir. Eighth graders will sing in four-part harmony for the holiday concert, and both the eighth-graders and sixth-graders will showcase their dancing skills in pieces with choreography.

"We're going for sound and maturity of music. Sure, it's going to be Christmas music, but it still has to be musical," Andersen said. "Musicianship is playing with the right style, so it's fun to listen to many styles."

The sixth grade band will play a lineup of carols with religious overtones this year, whereas the seventh-graders and eighth-graders will play Christmas tunes in the in the traditional Norman Rockwell-Currier and Ives mold -- "Winter Wonderland" and "Silver Bells."

Blending is one of the key elements of music students learn at the middle school level, whether they're in choir, band or orchestra.

Part of the problem is that students, once they can play or sing loud, believe that they should, all the time, regardless of whether the music calls for it. Learning how to blend voices and instruments takes time and effort from students as well as their teachers, who must balance melodies and harmonies over multiple singing parts or instrument sections.

Keeping focused can also be difficult for young people looking forward to Christmas vacation, but the music students have worked hard on their holiday tunes.

"We'd like to thank people in Worthington. They really support the arts," Anderson said.

In case of inclement weather, the concert will most likely be rescheduled for a later date.