Christmas Pops Concert in the Works

The jazz band filed awkwardly onto stage after carefully setting up its equipment. The members sat in their prearranged ranks and awaited orders from their fearless leader, Mr. Kenji Kikuchi, who promptly started, “Ah one, ah two, ah one two three….” – Kenji was tentatively cut off by Zahin Das ’16 who said, “Uh, Kenji? The piano’s not making any noise.”

Those who were at the Parents’ Weekend Concert may remember this comical scene. The electric piano had stopped working, delaying the performance for almost fifteen minutes. Kenji handed the microphone (with relief) to Evan Long ’14, who ad-libbed some outstanding stand-up comedy to occupy the audience. Despite this incident, the Parents’ Weekend Concert was a great success, and all the groups that performed did a terrific job.

Parents’ Weekend is one of the best times of the year for musical groups to gain exposure to the community – it is the only big stage throughout the year when different musical groups can show what they have worked on, and the only time with a guaranteed full house. It is also, sadly, one of the few big concerts held during the year.

The music department is constantly looking for new opportunities to display the talents of its musicians. It seems to be succeeding; the Groton community has come to appreciate musical talent more and more in recent years. This is apparent in the increased popularity of Open-Mics and performances in Chapel. But there is still a lack of enthusiasm for bigger concerts like Parents’ Weekend and Lessons and Carols.

This year, the music department has decided to try something new and will present another opportunity for the Groton community to appreciate musical talent. Besides the mandatory Lessons and Carols, which highlights the beauty of choir, the music department will plan a Christmas Concert with the SAC. Scheduled for Saturday, December 7th  at 7:00 P.M. in the Hall, the Christmas Concert will offer a different atmosphere from the serene beauty of Lessons and Carols; instead, it will provide a lively and cheerful environment to celebrate music and a merry mood to enjoy Christmas songs.

In an effort to promote the concert and gain a higher attendance, the music department has planned the Christmas Concert to be an informal gig that allows spectators to come and go as they please. Music department head Mrs. MaryAnn Lanier said, “Oh no, it will definitely be casual. There will be round tables set up in the Hall, kind of like Winter Formal last year, and of course there will be snacks and drinks on the side. Please don’t forget to mention there will be refreshments.”

The music department hopes that the concert will create a light, unserious, party-like mood; the purpose of the concert is to provide a relaxed environment for people to come hang out and enjoy some groovy Christmas tunes. The concert is aptly nicknamed “The Groton Pops Christmas Party” or “Christmas Pops,” and it will indeed mix elements of traditional Christmas songs with pop. This event is also on a large enough scale that many musical groups are able to participate. Anyone who wishes to participate can perform. Besides the two formal performing groups (jazz band and orchestra), the concert will include the A-Minor Sextet, Gospel Choir, and the Maqupellas. The choir will not perform but instead focus on preparing for Lessons and Carols.

Although the plan for the concert is still in its early stages, the musical groups are already preparing for it. The jazz band has been practicing a medley of popular Christmas tunes, including “Let it Snow,” “Christmas Time is Here,” “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and “O Holy Night.” They will also play “Angels 13” – except they have converted the song to a rock genre, complete with heavy metal distortions. Similarly, the orchestra is preparing an assortment of familiar songs. They will be playing “A Christmas Festival” by Leroy Anderson, an extremely lengthy arrangement that includes all the Christmas favorites. In addition to these separate pieces, the jazz band and orchestra are preparing to combine into one big band to play the song “Sleigh Ride,” also by Leroy Anderson.

The recently formed A-Minor Sextet will also be taking the chance to show off.  “We’ll be playing a medley of hymns/carols that I’m arranging. They’ll include ‘The First Noel,’ ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’ ‘Silent Night,’ and ‘What Child is This.’ We’ll probably start preparing immediately after Thanksgiving, after I finish arranging all the pieces,” said Evan Haas ’16. The Maqupellas are also preparing a Christmas song for the concert, as is Gospel Choir. A Gospel Choir performance would be much anticipated; we have not heard from them since their one performance last year, and I’m sure many people would love to hear from them again.

Christmas Pops will be a great opportunity for both musicians and the Groton community. Students will have a chance to display their musical talents, and the concert should provide a warm and cozy place for people to hang out as the days become increasingly colder. “I hope it’ll be a party! It’ll be right before the dance, too. I think it’s a great chance for the community to come together and just relax to some great music. It’s going to be fun,” said Mrs. Lanier. Thank you to the music department for organizing such a great event!

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