Choir encourages audience participation at concert Thursday

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For the first time ever, the Dowagiac Middle School Performing Art Center’s stage will be open to not just the district’s choir students, but to alumni and music lovers across the community.

Members of the audience are encouraged to join along with the 225 members of the sixth to 12th grade choir on stage for the signing of “Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus,” one of the many pieces that will be featured during the school’s annual Winter Choir Concert. The concert will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. inside the middle school auditorium.

Choir Director Jeff Robinson came up with the idea of having the public sing with the choir in hopes of creating a sense of past and present. Robinson especially encourages former Dowagiac Union School choir students to unite with their current counterparts, he said.

“I would like it to become a tradition, because it would be cool to have the alumni come join us every winter,” Robinson said.

The reason that Robinson chose the “Hallelujah Chorus” was because of the familiarity that choir students have with the holiday classic, which is traditionally sung as part of the winter concert.  The choir director was partially inspired by the Dowagiac Union High School band, which has a similar annual tradition, he added.

“It will be nice for the choir to have a song that ties us all together,” Robinson said.

The director said that the process of joining the choir for the number will be easy, since they will call up anyone who wishes to come on stage prior to beginning the song. While copies of the lyrics will be provided, Robinson is encouraging people to bring their own copies to the concert if they so chose.

The singing of the “Chorus” will be one of an assortment of numbers based around the holiday theme planned for the concert. The student choir will also sing classics such as “Jingle-Bell Rock” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

However, Thursday’s concert isn’t simply an arrangement of familiar holiday pieces. “Similar to previous concerts, this will not be just a holiday program,” Robinson said. “We will also be singing some of the other music we’ve been working on throughout the year.”

Among the songs the choir will also be performing will be “Castle on a Cloud” from the musical Les Misérables; “For Good” from Wicked; “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” which will feature an accompaniment by a guest cello player; and “How High the Moon,” a classic jazz piece.

In addition, members of the honor choir will sing “Hard Times Come Again No More,” an American parlor song written by Steven Foster. The concert will also feature a few solo performances and choreographed act, as well as a “guest appearance” by Frosty the Snowman, Robinson said.

Admission to the concert is free, and is open to anyone in the public. The concert should last an hour.