Choir Concert Lifts Spirits in Annual Winter Performance


Michael Sun

Sophomore and soloist Sara Haidar sings “Winter, Fire and Snow” by Brenden Graham with an accompaniment on cello from senior Juel Wettstein. The annual winter concert filled nearly every seat in the theater, according to choir director Adrian Rangel-Sanchez.

The lights dim around the theater, displaying the twinkling, multicolored hues of Christmas lights scattered across the festively-decorated theater. The audience waits in silent anticipation, allowing the melody of the philharmonic orchestra and the medley of voices to blend harmoniously and engulf the theater.

Choir held its annual “The Spirit of The Season” concert on Dec. 9 in the theater, featuring all five choirs, the philharmonic orchestra and the Cadence Park K-8 middle school choir. 

The concert started off strong, with the entire choir program along with the philharmonic orchestra performing “Sleigh Ride” arranged by Leroy Anderson. Due to the complicated schedules of more than 100 students on-stage at once, choir and orchestra only rehearsed together once, two days before the concert, according to choir director Adrian Rangel-Sanchez. 

“Usually, you get nervous before a concert, but weirdly for this concert, everyone felt really confident with their music, and everything was well organized,” Rangel-Sanchez said. “We were just ready to put on a great show, and we went on stage and had an awesome performance.”

The concert featured a wide variety of different Christmas songs, ranging from the popular “Carol of the Bells” – arranged by Peter Wilhousky and performed by Treble & Bass Choir – to less recognized songs such as the spirited “This Little Babe” – arranged by Benjamin Britten and performed by Canta Bella. 

“My favorite song of the night was probably ‘This Little Babe,’” sophomore and Canta Bella member Ellen Liu said. “It’s a very cool, but also pretty difficult song that we had kind of a lot of trouble on initially, but afterwards, we kept working on it. Performance day was the very best performance that we did of it, and it turned out really nicely.”

In addition to the five choirs in the program, Cadence Park K-8 middle choir performed “Hot Chocolate” from the film “The Polar Express” while the Portobellas, a student-led a cappella group, performed “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” arranged by Johnny Marks.

Although the nostalgic tunes are the focal point of the concert, another tradition that has become a staple of the annual winter concert is the arrival of Santa Claus. This year, Santa battled against Darth Vader, with intense fight scenes scattered throughout the concert, climaxing with the revelation that Santa was actually Darth Vader’s father (gasp). 

“[Santa versus Darth Vader] was kind of my brainchild,” Rangel-Sanchez said. “Over the years, we’ve gradually expanded the plot and the characters. Then this year, I was like, ‘let’s do something completely different.’ So then we wrote this whole plot with Darth Vader to duel with Santa. The whole purpose was just to create a fun experience for the audience and the students that was something memorable, something fun and something unique and different.”

Another unique aspect of this year’s concert was the silent auction, in which attendees could bid on specific items and services during the intermission. In total, this auction raised more than $1,000 dollars for the choir program, making it one of the most successful to date, according to Rangel-Sanchez. 

The winter concert is traditionally one of the largest and most memorable performances of the year. For graduating seniors, this was the last opportunity to experience it. 

“I think the winter concert is like a big favorite for all the choir members, so it was kind of sad that it was my last,” senior and Portola Singers member John Woo said. “But, I think it was good because this is also one of the ones where we had a lot of challenging pieces, so it’s also relieving to have finished on a high note.”