Singers and players at Iowa Central Community College are gearing up for a holiday concert that features both the familiar classics and high-energy tunes.
To keep things interesting the Jazz Band, which will close the show, is trying a new format.
"We're trying a unique program where there's nonstop music," said instrumental director Paul Bloomquist. "We start out with a blues chart called 'Cheesecake.' Which of course, this time of the year, who doesn't like cheesecake?"
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Emily Laughlin, left, and her singing partner Martin Wise, rehearse Tuesday afternoon for the Iowa Central Community College music and visual arts departments annual holiday concert.
The band will immediately transition into "The First Noel," followed by the Billie Holiday tune "God Bless' the Child." Bloomquist said the song title has an apostrophe, but he's not quite sure what it means.
"Then they will play the Second Noel," Bloomquist said. "It's the song, 'The First Noel,' but it's the second time they'll hear it."
Next will be "It's Only a Paper Moon," featuring Michael Richardson on both bass trombone and voice, followed by the Third Noel. The last song will be "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" followed by the Fourth Noel.
If you go:
WHO: ICCC Music and Visual Arts Department, featuring Concert Band, Concert Choir, Encore Singers, Brass Ensemble, Vocal Jazz and Jazz Band
WHEN: 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Decker auditorium, ICCC campus
ADMISSION: Free. Shuttle bus available.
"What I've found, the show choir, they have seamless transitions between songs," said Bloomquist. "And since jazz band follows that, if there's any dead air time, the energy the show choir and the jazz band singers create, it dies and I have to rekindle that. But if I keep it moving - plus it's the end of the show, and people have been sitting for an hour."
The annual holiday concert will be Thursday and Friday and will feature three vocal groups and three instrumental groups, plus the percussion ensemble that traditionally opens the concert.
"Instead of having your traditional trumpet fanfare, we come out drums a blazing," said Jeremy Smith, the ensemble's director.
The ensemble will perform "Stormbreak" accompanied by the concert band, and a Led Zeppelin medley featuring five different mallet percussion players.
"This fall we purchased a new marimba for the department. We're trying to give the students more of the mallet percussion, keyboard percussion experience," Smith said.
Student artwork will be on display in the lobby prior to the concert.
For the choirs, this isn't just a winter concert; it's a holiday concert filled with sacred and secular classics.
"It's very much in the holiday spirit," said Kathleen Schreier, vocal director.
The concert choir will feature new arrangements of the traditional "O Come All Ye Faithful," and "The First Noel."
"They're particularly lush harmonies. Great accompaniments," said Schreier,
Violins, violas and a string bass played by Fort Dodge Symphony members will join the piano accompaniment for the choir.
"And I really feel that the combination of the keyboard and the strings elevates our show, and enhances the entire production quite a bit," Schreier said.
The Encore show choir will be a secular holiday spectacle.
"It's reminiscent of what I would call an Andy Williams Christmas Show," Schreier said. "Sleigh ride, silver bells."
Vocal Jazz will perform "The Holiday Season," "Dream with the Angels" and the women's feature "Ave Maria."
The concert band will play a Christmas medley and a concert band classic, "Greensleeves," said conductor Paul Bloomquist. The seven-member brass ensemble will also perform.
Jazz Band will close up the show.
Schreier said her choirs would present the old songs in a fresh way.
"When you've been doing this as long as we have, how many times can you do 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful?' So you always look for new arrangements, fresh arrangements of those tunes, and it makes it more exciting,"she said.
"That's the trick, to keep it interesting. I get tired of Christmas music when I only have the same tunes to go back to, so it's about trying to find different things and keep it interesting," he said.