Band and choir students prepare for annual holiday concerts

Emilee Wegner, Social Media Manager

Each year, band teacher Ben Ruetten and choir teacher Lisa Utecht prepare their students for a holiday concert. The band concert was on Monday, December 9 and the choir concert is on Monday, December 19.

“We start working from day one, with learning how to sing well. Working on individual skills which include body alignment, breathing and tone production and how to sing with each other and singing in multiple parts,” Utecht said. “We do start working on our concert music by the end of September because time flies and each piece presents its own set of challenges that need to be worked through in each voice and with the group as a whole.”

Utecht says she is hopeful that her singers are ready for Monday’s concert.

“They are getting very close. We never want to peak too early so it’s a process to get them to concert night with it comfortably learned but not where it’s on autopilot,” Utecht said. 

The choir will be singing several songs and they are more than just the few classic Christmas songs. 

As of right now we will be singing ‘Red Bird of Winter,’ ‘Gloria,’ ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ ‘’Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ ‘Snickelways of York,’ and ‘O Holy Night,’” sophomore Andrew Rozek said.

Since choir students are singing several songs at the upcoming concert, they need to practice and get comfortable with each song. 

“I sing Alto 2 and I feel pretty prepared. We have a good foundation for all of our songs and at this point, they just need some polishing. Similarly, I feel the choir as a whole is also prepared for the same reason,” Rozek said.

In comparison to choir, band was doing the same type of thing when it came to polishing up during the final week of class time.

With regard to preparation, we are at the stage of trying to fix and polish spots, phrases, and details more than anything. The big picture is there, but now the fine details need to really be cleaned. It takes a lot of focus, but it has been going very well,” Ruetten said. 

Ruetten explains that comfort is priority when preparing for any performance with an audience.

“I think they’re ready, I think it’s more about the group being as comfortable as possible performing in front of people. I think the group gets more comfortable every day,” Ruetten said. 

Junior Emma Latza expresses her confidence in the parts she plays, along with a challenge she faces.

“At this concert, I’m only playing clarinet. I feel pretty prepared, I’ve been practicing quite a bit. The biggest challenge in my parts is not having any time to breathe. Most of my parts include high notes that require a lot of air, so it gets a little rough,” Latza said. 

Latza explains the different songs the band will be playing at the concert.

In the concert, the band is playing ‘Carol of The Bells,’ ‘Everything Beautiful,’ (A non-holiday classical piece featuring piano,) ‘Country Cookin’ Christmas,’ (a medley of holiday tunes with a country twist,) ‘Candlelight Carol,’ ‘Bring A Torch,’ (An old Christmas Carol,) and ‘Ancient Carol Variants,’ ” Latza said. 

In choir, there are several different singing parts. Rozek explains his part in the songs, and addresses a few challenges. 

“Altos mostly sing harmony, and there are some parts in our songs where we’re singing harmony acapella. Without a piano to guide us, it can be a little hard to hold on to the correct harmonies, but we make it through,” Rozek said.

There is a tradition at the choir concert of inviting alumni to sing along if they are present in the audience.

Our concert is Dec. 19 so we are encouraging alumni to come back and sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ with us. Students should let their older siblings know if they were in Choir,” Utecht said.