The holiday season is approaching with Cal Poly Choirs’ “A Christmas Celebration” on Dec. 7. “We’re giving new twists to traditional Christmas songs,” Polyphonics bass and statistics senior Leland Bailey said. “We’re singing different versions of traditional Christmas songs that people probably have never heard before.”
Winter is coming. And with that, the holiday season.
The annual Cal Poly Choirs’ “A Christmas Celebration” will be held on Dec. 7 in Harman Hall of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center.
Polyphonics members often sneak into the crowd to hear the other featured choirs, The University Singers and the Early Music Ensemble, Polyphonics first alto Alexandra Ongman said.
“It’s always fun because there’s more than one group, so when the other groups are performing, we all crowd in the wings and get to listen to them perform, and sometimes we even sneak up into the upper rafters in the seating when we’re done or when we have a long break,” Ongman, an environmental management and protection sophomore, said. “And so, we’ll go up the stairs and sneak into the audience to listen, so that’s really fun.”
The show, “A Christmas Celebration,” is Ongman’s favorite choir performance of the year “because the audience is getting in the Christmas spirit,” she said.
Her favorite moment is the choirs’ traditional finale, “Silent Night.”
“We did this last year, and I’m pretty sure we’ll do it this year too, but we stand around the audience and we dim the lights, and we sing ‘Silent Night’ out around them,” she said. “It’s very Christmas-y — very, very Christmas-y — and it gets everyone excited to go on break and for the holidays. It’s a very magical, holiday moment.”
Polyphonics bass and statistics senior Leland Bailey agrees, calling the show “powerful” and “unique.”
“We’re giving new twists to traditional Christmas songs,” he said. “We’re singing different versions of traditional Christmas songs that people probably have never heard before.”
Tradition, though, remains the backbone of the annual performance.
Conductor Thomas Davies has hosted “A Christmas Celebration” for 31 years.
“And the title of ‘A Christmas Celebration’ even precedes me, so it’s probably been 35, maybe even 40 years, in total since we started having this holiday concert,” he said. “And it is always a favorite. It’s a favorite of the students and a favorite of the audience. At the holiday, particularly the Christmas season, people think of music, so it naturally fits together and becomes a special occasion.”
The performance will feature a variety of musical styles and instrumental accompaniments, including the Cal Poly Brass Ensemble, harp and flute, he said.
“I didn’t want a concert full of only slow, beautiful things,” Davies said. “One could do that very easily during this time of year. There’s a lot of slow, beautiful, warm, even mushy music, but we try to mix it up with some faster pieces, some slower pieces … We have a piece that’s choir and organ, a piece that’s harp and flute, so you get lots of different colors of instruments along with the voices, as well as some a capella pieces as well.”
The holiday show will feature Hanukkah and secular winter music as well.
The season is the perfect time to show support for Cal Poly students, including non-music majors, Davies said.
“Especially for a lot of students who are non-majors, who are the scientists and the agricultural majors and the engineers, people should come up and see what they do with the other side of their brains and see what they do with their hearts when they sing so beautifully,” Davies said.
The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $14 and $12 general and $9 for seniors and students.