East Holmes Schools presents an evening of Christmas music

East Holmes Schools presents an evening of Christmas music

Image Credit: Dave Mast

The Amish Country Theater was alive with the sound of music on Monday, Dec. 12, but it wasn’t the usual pickin’ and grinnin’ at the Country Theater band nor the actors who perform routinely, but rather the entirety of the musical ensemble from East Holmes Schools.

East Holmes Schools performed a trio of concerts for its annual Holiday Choral Concert, beginning with the elementary students, followed by a second performance by the middle school students and finally the high school choir hit center stage for an evening filled with music.

This year’s concert was titled “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All,” and the seats were packed with parents, family members and neighbors who filled the theater at Berlin Encore Hotel and Suites to listen to the youngsters perform.

The chance to grace the stage at the Amish Country Theater is one that has been going on for several years, and East Holmes Music Director Alexander Looney said it is always special for the students to get the chance to perform in the theater.

“We are grateful to the Amish Country Theater for donating their space to us,” Looney said. “It’s great for the students to have the opportunity to perform, and a really high-level space like this makes this evening a very special one for both them and the people who fill the seats.”

The event opened with the elementary students, who offered five songs, beginning with “Welcome!” and ending with “Winter Sleigh Ride.” The Hiland Varsity Singers then sang a trio of songs, and the combined choirs finished with “Peace, Peace.”

Looney said the varsity singers perform during all three choir concerts because he wants the younger students to see what hard work and dedication to a craft can lead to if they stay with the program.

“This is a great opportunity we as a school district have to utilize some of the great resources and relationships we have around the district,” said Darrell Haven, principal at Walnut Creek and Winesburg Elementary. “This is one the kids really enjoy. The place is filled up, and performing here is a special moment for them. This is always one of the most highly anticipated performances of the year for us.”

The students from around the district gather at the theater the day of the event and practice, with the East Holmes Music Boosters providing pizza for all.

Following the elementary kids, the middle school students took to the stage, with the seventh-graders singing three songs including “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The eighth-graders sang four songs including “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” which featured a solo by Brooke Yoder.

Once again, the varsity singers came on stage to sing three more songs, and the middle-schoolers and varsity singers combined to sing “Peace, Peace” once again, only to a new audience.

“Having the varsity singers perform at each concert is important because it introduces the younger kids to the destination of what they can accomplish if they keep singing,” Looney said.

The high school students capped off the evening’s entertainment, beginning with a candlelight processional. The Hiland High School Bel Canto group sang three songs, accompanied by Jenn Harper on the flute and Brent Schloneger on percussion, while Dakota Olsen performed ballet during the singing of “Still, Still, Still.”

The stage was then spotlighted by soloists, duets and trios.

Martin Gingerich sang “Let It Snow.” Cheyanne Mackey and Bentley Miller presented “Last Christmas.” Rogan Miller and Madison Straits sang “Mary Did You Know.” “The Christmas Song” was performed by Ethan Hershberger, Elliot Mullet, Cade Keim and Levi Rubio. Maici Money sang “O Holy Night,” and Gweneth Favia and Grace Schlabach presented “What Child Is This/Child of the Poor” with Schlabach playing the guitar and Favia on the piano as they sang.

The varsity singers then performed for a third time, singing seven songs, with the gentlemen singing “Little Saint Nick” featuring choreography and props designed by Max Jones while the ladies sang “Run, Run, Rudolph,” featuring choreography designed by Money.

Looney said thanks needed to go out to Melanie Clay, Logan Harper and the staff at Amish Country Theater for all their work in making this collaboration possible.

Looney said this concert highlights everything the district has invested in the choral department and added working with the younger students continues to be a wonderful way to introduce them to the joy of music, which they passed along to the community with this three-concerts-in-one evening dedicated to the holiday season.