Choir Students Upraise the ‘Spirit of the Season’ in Annual Winter Vocal Concert


Arnav Chandan

Portobellas choir performs an a cappella rendition of “Carol of the Bells” by Pentatonix. An a cappella performance is a special type of polyphonic singing that does not involve any musical accompaniment.

Students, parents and teachers cluster closely with one another outside the front entrance of the theater, merrily cheering and singing along as performers conduct special caroling performances of jovial holiday music. As the performances come to an end, attendees shift from the wintry cold of the parking lot into the warmth of the festively-decorated concert hall, eagerly waiting to once again hear the uplifting, nostalgic melodies.

As part of their annual tribute to the winter holidays, students from all five choirs held their Spirit of the Season concert in the theater on Dec. 10, with a number of performances related to Christmas and winter music. The concert also featured a philharmonic and symphonic orchestra along with student soloists.

“The point of this concert has always just been to build community,” choir director Adrian Rangel-Sanchez said. “That’s why we bring the orchestra together with the band and choirs, and we put everyone on the same stage and let everyone collaborate.”

Selected soloists outside of choir performed a carol piece backed by instruments like the piano and guitar. Featured songs included Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon.”

The all-women choir, Canta Bella, performed Michael Bublé’s “Winter Wonderland” and a new winter piece titled “Tundra” by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo.

“‘Tundra’ is a song that’s based on a beautiful landscape in Iceland,” Canta Bella singer and sophomore Daniella Shao said. “It’s very interesting because it has a breaking point in the center where everything in this beautiful area that’s made out of ice is crashing down.”

After the concert’s intermission, Portola Singers sang two pieces, one composed by George Frideric Handel and the other by Eric Whitacre. The songs, accompanied by string instruments and a cappella, were “For Unto Us Born” and “Lux Aurumque.”

“The songs are unique to each individual as well as what each person believes,” Portola Singers vocalist and junior Aryan Dahiya said. “Despite not being exactly related to Christmas, there’s a lot of spiritual references such as ‘our child is born,’ a ‘savior’ and a ‘Holy Spirit,’ where the people are blessed with a child.”

Every winter vocal concert features the return of Santa Claus and his Elf, Buddy. Santa Claus and Buddy performed their traditional Santa Skit during the concert, with the addition of Oogie Boogie, the antagonist in Tim Burton’s 1993 film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

“I like to think of myself as the ultimate philanthropist,” Santa Claus* said. “Anything that I can do to help people and spread cheer, I will do. I’m so glad that Buddy was able to come through and rescue me from the evil Oogie Boogie.”

All five choirs gathered on stage to sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Jingle Bells,” as a final wish to all attendees to have a happy winter holiday season.

*The actor performing as Santa Claus asked to be referred to as Santa Claus within the article.