A Christmas Concert to Warm the Heart

Audio Interview and Written Feature by Alex G., Concordia Applied Journalism

The sweet melodies of the soprano voices, the rise and fall of clarinet harmonies, and the thrum of the string bass; with the holiday season approaching, Concordia's annual Christmas concerts are back in the community! Every year since the dawn of the school's fine arts programs, there has always been music that has echoed through the halls of the Concordia.

     Concordia senior and Wind Ensemble euphonium       player Charles Y. practicing his Christmas music.

"This is our first concert back together. It would be nice if we could reestablish the idea of unity and community and ensemble and music at a time where we are celebrating the birth of our savior," exclaims Mr. Rob Chapman, the long-time high school band director at Concordia.

Since COVID-19 struck Shanghai in early February, there has not been a single music event at the school. When the opportunity presented itself, the three high school music directors easily agreed on performing on December 10th and 11th during the Christmas season – a time to regroup and collectively create a sense of normality. 

There was one catch though – there will not be separate concerts for each music group, rather a larger, combined concert. 

"People who know our music history know that in our Pops concert every May, we wind down our school year in that fashion, where we put every musician in the high school on stage," explains Mr. Chapman. Although this year's Christmas concert is not traditional, this joint concert format is one that the spring Pops concert often adopts, making the transition relatively easy for everyone; many unique combined pieces with mixed ensembles are to be played.

The Concordia Christmas Concert’s three music directors (Left to Right): Ms. Meg Ideker for choir, Mr. Rob Chapman for the band, and Ms. Sara Preus for strings.

Besides formatting, there's also been an interesting new twist to the ensembles: not all of the musicians are students! This concept harkens back over 13 years in our school.

"When I arrived here many many years ago in 2007 when the band program was so small, we had lots of teachers who would join in to fill in sections," recalls Mr. Chapman. With so few students and most of them choosing similar instruments, it was hard to balance the groups without some assistance.

"What happened over time is that we grew, and we didn't need the extra help, but also as we grew, we played more challenging music; some of the music became too hard for many of the teachers to still play," states Mr. Chapman. As enrollment numbers have increased drastically in recent years, Concordia has always had rather full ensembles. Concordia has also developed a reputation of having a model music program – the music has become much more challenging and advanced. 

     The Concordia concert band members hard at             work for their upcoming ensemble pieces in the           Rittman theater band room.

"It is kind of nice that we can bring it back. Our enrollment and numbers in band, strings and choir are a little bit down and we've got several new teachers who came in," says Mr. Chapman. The fact that teachers and students alike are working together to produce such gorgeous music is indicative of the united community at Concordia.

With the concert approaching, musicians from all the ensembles are preparing for a wonderful performance. The addition of the combined format and teacher guests at the Christmas concert will be a special treat to the whole community in 2020 – it will surely bring warmth to everyone as they enjoy the holidays.

For The Official Livestream Concert Page Click here.


Alex G. is a student of Concordia Applied Journalism.