More than the sight of elaborate Christmas trees displayed on the footsteps of department stores and the annual red holiday coffee cup at Starbucks, rehearsing my favorite carols in the choir room is what really reminds me that Christmas is on its way. The Annual Winter Concert at Seoul International School took place on November 26th, and the performances by all ensembles were brighter and jollier than ever.
|[Photo of the High School Orchestra at the 2019 SIS Winter Concert / Photo Courtesy of Rachel Lee]|
What particularly caught my attention was that the instrumental ensembles performed pieces that were explicitly related to Christmas - seemingly for the first time in years. In past years, the Advanced Band, Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble, and High School Orchestra had selected tracks that had a more classical sound and were not related to the holiday spirit. However, as the finale for this year’s concert, the High School Orchestra performed a lengthy medley of various Christmas favorites, which included popular carols such as It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Winter Wonderland. As usual, the Men’s Choir continued their tradition of combining fun, silly performances with polished vocals through their rendition of Jay Althouse’s Please Come Home for Christmas, in which all members wore sunglasses and performed cheesy movements onstage. Other choir ensembles, such as Ladies Choir, performed Christmas classics such as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, and the large Strings Ensemble performed various medleys from film soundtracks, such as the soundtrack from La La Land and the scores of composer John Williams.
[Photo of the concert programmed at the SIS Winter Concert /
But the highlight of the day for me personally was the performance of my own choir - the Seoul International School Ambassadors. Though we also performed more classical tracks such as Pentatonix’s Mary Did You Know, the clear audience favorite was our choir’s interpretation of Straight No Chaser’s Text Me Merry Christmas. Text Me Merry Christmas is a popular modern Christmas hit that conveys holiday sentiments through cheesy lyrics about social media and instant messaging. The unique staging that took place during Text Me Merry Christmas made performing the duet parts appear as if the singers had been a couple singing to each other, and the silly romantic gestures that the choir members made throughout the song further cemented the song’s appeal to the audience.
|[Photo of the author singing during her duet in Text Me Merry Christmas /
Photo Courtesy of Seoul International School]
What I loved most about this year’s winter concert was how much genuine fun I had. Normally, I get really nervous before concerts, and a bit agitated trying to perfect to the various pieces for both Ladies Choir and Ambassadors. This year, however, the freedom we the Ambassadors were given in preparing such pieces as Text Me Merry Christmas made me feel like the concert was not a graded assessment for my choir classes, but I could simply have fun singing with my friends in choir. Even as I listened to the High School Orchestra’s Christmas medley, I was delighted to recognize songs that I had performed in previous years with the Ladies Choir, like Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
The extra sentimental feelings I felt in this year’s winter concert was in part because the dedicated singers of the graduating class of 2020 are leaving soon. Senior Meehee Park expressed that “as a senior who has been invested in choirs and other singing ensembles for quite a while now, the last winter concert was a bittersweet moment,” and that she would “certainly miss the warm air and the sense of accomplishment that these performances have brought.” It was clear that most performers in the graduating class of 2020 shared Park’s love for music. One particular senior was officially recognized for being an active member in the choral, strings, and band divisions of the music department -- which is not an easy fit. Furthermore, some seniors were student directors within their ensembles, leading and overseeing the production of various performances by their fellow peers. Their dedication made it possible for so many performers and audience to have more fun in this year’s concert.
All in all, the winter concert at Seoul International School helped bring out the holiday spirit in not only audience members, but also performers this year. I’m excited to see what other musical opportunities this school year will bring to students and can’t wait for the next year’s concert!
Seoul International School
Rachel Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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