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WMS music students celebrate the holidays Monday evening

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe The Worthington Middle School seventh grade choir, under the direction of Cindy Anderson, rehearses Thursday at the school for their upcoming holiday concert.

WORTHINGTON -- The holly is hung, the risers are positioned and more than 400 Worthington Middle School (WMS) musicians are ready to entertain on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Worthington High School gymnasium.

With fifth- through eighth-grade band, orchestra and choir students poised to sing and play their holiday best, their dedicated directors ensure audience satisfaction.

"The audience will enjoy our 'Holiday Sampler,' which has snippets of 'Jolly Old St. Nicholas,' 'Good King Wenceslas' and 'O Come, All Ye Faithful,'" said Jeanette Jenson, conductor of the fifth grade band students. "They will also play 'Twinkle Variations,' arranged by our own Mike Andersen.

"The beautiful melody features every section of the band and includes a waltz and a cha-cha."

Several WMS teachers and staff, who happen to also be parents of fifth-grade band members, will "surprise the crowd with their musical talents," suggested Jenson, on the band's selection "Christmas Elves." Among these Santa's helpers are Derek Schmitz, Brian Powers, Tony Hastings, Mark Prunty and Josh Wasmund.

Andersen's roughly 170 sixth- through eighth-grade band students will share an assortment of numbers, ranging from the sixth grade group's Christmas medley "Many Christmas Greetings" and "Home for the Holidays" to the seventh graders classically based excerpt from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" and "Drummer's Christmas Carol" to the eighth graders' "Christmas Montage."

"Each band has a song they like better than the other, which is normal for any student," shared Andersen. "They still seem to enjoy all the music we are performing, however, because I try to only program music that I and they will like -- we spend a lot of time with it, so we'd better like it."

Choir director Cindy Anderson will lead nearly 300 young choristers in several tunes.

"The sixth grade choir is performing 'The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy,' which has a little island flavor with an added percussion trio," said Anderson. "They are also singing 'Scarborough Carol,' which uses familiar Christmas pieces set to the melody 'Scarborough Fair.'"

"Carol of the Kings" and "Peace Child" are the seventh graders' offering, while the eighth grade singers will deliver a medley of favorites from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Also, about 110 young violinists, violists, cellists and bass players under the direction of Melanie Loy and Katie Stafford will present a variety of seasonal favorites. "Up on the Housetop," "We Three Kings" and "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" are on tap from the sixth graders, while the seventh/eighth grade orchestra will perform "Dance of the Tumblers" and "All is Well."

Stafford will also lead the fifth grade string players in a few selections.

Said Loy, "This is a fun concert because it includes the whole middle school music department, and it's great to share music of the holiday season. Programming a few holiday favorites is always nice, and we get to feature all of the music students in one concert opportunity."

The Worthington Middle School's holiday Festival of Music takes place Monday at 7 p.m. in the Worthington High School gymnasium. The concert is free and open to the public.