Choirs perform holiday-themed songs at Santa Monica church

By Carrie Davidson

The lights dimmed in the Santa Monica Presbyterian Church on Dec. 10 as all upper school choir members filed in towards the risers holding a small plastic candle.

The annual Winter Choral Concert performance, entitled “Ceremonial Light,” featured performances from Chamber Singers, Bel Canto, Jazz Singers and Wolverine Chorus.

The night began with “A Ceremony of Carols,” composed by Benjamin Britten, performed by the combined choirs. The piece required a “spectacular” harpist, choral director Rodger Guerrero said, found in professional musician Amy Wilkins who accompanied the choirs.

Bel Canto member Chanell Thomas ’13 cited “A Ceremony of Carols” as one of her favorite performances.

“I love ‘A Ceremony of Carols,’” Thomas said. “We sing it beautifully and I think the harp’s interlude is absolutely stunning.

The performance began and ended with combined ensembles, but the bulk of the night featured the individual groups to display their unique sounds.

Several performances also included solos. Chamber and Jazz Singers member Adam Lange ’13 had a solo in the Jazz Singers’ rendition of “The Christmas Song.”

“There are always nerves on stage, but I figure if I sing well, it won’t matter if my hands are shaking a bit,” Lange said. “It’s nerve-wracking but really fun.”

However, Lange said he prefers singing combined pieces.

“It’s really awesome to hear a lot of voices singing together and creating beautiful music,” he said.

Nick Healy ’13 accompanied Jazz Singers on piano for several songs. Other accompanists included Josh Ha ’12 playing the clarinet, performing arts teacher Mark Hilt playing the organ and upper school performing arts accompanists Sara Shakliyan-Mendez playing the piano.

The performance ended with all of the seniors singing “Silent Night.”

“We always get emotional because of the tradition that the seniors sing ‘Silent Night,’” said Bel Canto member Cassandra Martinez ’13.