AHS musicians coming together for annual holiday concert

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Austin High School musicians are about to get audiences of all ages in the Christmas mood

Austin schools have been holding annual Christmas programs, and on Monday nearly 500 Austin High School students will take to the stage for their biggest concert of the season: The annual AHS Holiday Concert featuring bands, choirs, and orchestras.

“It’s truly a community event, it’s been going on for many, many years,” Band Director Brad Mariska said. “It’s a community gathering almost as much as it is a concert.”

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Some of the selections on the program include classic Christmas music, like the wind ensemble’s arrangements of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” while the concert band will introduce audiences to a lesser-known British carol “On This Day Earth Shall Ring,” which features antiphonal brass.

Mariska said this is the only concert of the year where all the music students come together to perform at once.

“Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, the holiday concert, it’s the highlight of the year,’ and it really is,” he said.

The orchestras will play classics like “Greensleeves,” as well as contemporary arrangements by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The concert and symphony orchestras will again combine forces to play “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” featuring Tanner Farrand, Julia Phillips, Brett Brownrigg and Shaun Case.

In addition to the traditional combined choir performance of the “Hallelujah” chorus and “Silent Night,” the mixed choir will perform a jazz waltz version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” the treble choir will sing an arrangement of Irving Berlin’s classic “White Christmas,” and the concert choir will perform a gospel arrangement of “Mary Had A Baby,” fused with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody.

“It’s a concert that the students look forward to … parents look forward to it, and us as directors really look forward to it,” Mariska said. “You kind of want two things to happen: You want people to walk away feeling the holiday spirit, but it’s also a great, positive reflection of what’s happening every day in the music department.”

Pre-concert music by the jazz bands, choralaires, and chamber orchestra will begin in the AHS commons at 6:20 p.m., with the concert formally starting at 7 p.m. in Knowlton Auditorium. Tickets will be available at the door, and AHS activity passes and music boosters of Austin membership passes will also be honored. AHS students are admitted free with ID.

The concert is directed by Brian Johnson with the choir, Gene Schott with the orchestra, and Bradley Mariska with the band. For more information, contact Bradley Mariska via email at bradley.mariska@austin.k12.mn.us or call 507-460-1800.

“We just encourage everyone to come on our and check out the concert,” Mariska said. “Whether you’ve been there 50 times or never experienced one, there’s something for everyone.”