Classic holiday songs pack 45th annual music festival

Travis Whittington

ISU’s 45th Annual Holiday Festival will offer two very different but entertaining performances. The instrumental and choral music ensembles will perform Christmas holiday favorites at Stephens Auditorium Sunday.

A family concert will start the festival. Martin Province, assistant professor of music, will direct the first performance.

“I chose music that everyone will recognize because we are going to encourage the audience to sing along with us,” Province said.

“Joy to the World,” “We Three Kings,” “Away in the Manger” and other popular Christmas songs will be included in the first performance. Elizabeth Hovey, senior in music education, will play three different instruments in the performance.

“It will be great, because it is a family performance, and we will have a lot of fun with it,” Hovey said.

Because this will be a family performance, the Symphonic Band and the Jazz Ensemble will be changing things to accommodate children attending the performance. The flute choir and the saxophone choir will be set up in different parts of Stephens to keep the audience’s heads moving.

“There will be no set up time between performances,” Province said. “It will be fast moving because we want keep the kids attention.”

Jennifer Speer, senior in music performance, will be playing a double reed in the concert.

“It’s a nice change of pace from the pressure of school,” she said. “This is my favorite concert of the year. We get to have fun, and I am excited because we usually are set up on stage, but this time we are set up in the small balcony.”

A special appearance by Mel Crippen of KASI radio will be featured in the show. He will read “The Night Before Christmas” to children who will be invited on stage.

“We will play music to back up different parts of the story,” Province said. “We are so excited to have Mel be a part of this.”

“It will be a fun afternoon,” Province said. “I have a four year old, and I wouldn’t bring a four year old to most performances, but I would bring him to this concert even if he was a two year old.”

The more formal second concert will start later the same night. Four different choirs will be involved including the University Chorus, Oratoria Men’s and Women’s Choir and the Iowa State Singers. More than 20 carols will be sung and many of them will be done by the audience.

“So many songs have been written about this time of year and that makes it really enjoyable to put on something like this,” said James Rodde, director of the second performance. “People really enjoy this time of year, and it is a great way to include them.”

Some of the songs to be performed include “A Child is Born,” “Deck the Halls” and “Ave Maria.”

One performance not so familiar will be the Nigerian Christmas carol called “Betelehemu.”

“We like to include music from all over the world in our performances, and this carol will let the audience experience a different culture,” Rodde said.

“I’m really excited about them using ‘Betelehemu’ in the concert because it gives the show a lot of variety,” said Clint Nieman, performer in the second show.

The variety continues with a performance by 150 women. They will take the stage alone to performing a poem by e.e. cummings called “i thank you god.”

The finale of the concert will include more than 300 vocalists performing five different colorful melodies of “Praeludium Noel.”

“I really enjoyed working on this, and I’d like to cordially invite the public to attend, I think it will be a great time,” said Rodde, director of choral activities at Iowa State.

Tickets can be purchased at the Iowa State Center Box Office and at all Ticketmaster locations.