The sound of tradition | SkyHiNews.com

The sound of tradition

The Middle Park High School Choir practices a few of their Holiday Concert songs with Choir Director Brad Pregeant (seated at piano).

As Christmas quickly approaches we turn our thoughts to the coming holiday season. The winter holidays are about a lot of things, from the birth of Christ to the rededication of the second Temple in Jerusalem; but for many people the holidays are as much about traditions as anything.

From Christmas trees and mugs of cocoa to snowmen and roaring fires even the secular among us typically have a lifetime of traditions they rely upon to make the season feel just right. A favorite of many folks during the holidays is caroling, but if your singing voice isn't up to par consider taking in the East Grand School District's Holiday Choir Concert where you'll be treated to a wondrous collection of traditional holiday classics and contemporary favorites that will evoke memories of Christmases long ago.

The East Grand middle school and high school choirs will perform their annual Holiday Choir Concert beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday Dec. 14 in the Middle Park High School (MPHS) Auditorium.

CHOIR NUMBERS

There are 25 students in the MPHS Choir this year including three seniors. According to Choir Director Brad Pregeant the vast majority of the current high school Choir students are juniors or sophomores with a few freshmen mixed in as well.

The number of high school participants pales in comparison to the number of participants at East Grand Middle School (EGMS) though. The sixth-grade choir at EGMS has a total of 26 students while the seventh and eighth-grade Choir is massive with a combined total of 70 students.

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The student singers are further broken down into the various voice tones: soprano, alto, tenor and base, and sometimes baritone. "At the middle school I have tended towards two part arraignments," Pregeant said. "You could call it soprano and alto, but I am finding this year we are having more success pulling off three parts. That third part adds so much dimension to the sound."

Pregeant explained the high school choir always works with at least four parts and sometimes more, with the altos or sopranos sometimes splitting into two separate parts. The MPHS Choir has gone so far as to perform songs with seven separate parts. "It can be hard with the number of kids," Pregeant sad. "Right now I am happy if they can hold on to four. It is not that they are not capable of doing more parts, but it is a challenge with the size of our choir."

The MPHS Choir has been working on five-part arraignments this year primarily with the Choir's sopranos splitting into two separate soprano parts. Pregeant added that depending on the song being performed the choir's tenors and basses will sometimes sing in unison, but Pregeant quickly added, "Every arraignment is different in terms of how they ask the voices to divide."

FALL PERFORMANCES

So far this year the EGMS and MPHS Choirs have performed once in Grand County for the school district's fall concert, held in Oct. That concert featured several songs selected by the students including one performance of James Bay's song "Hold Back the River" which Pregeant highlighted as "one of the standout songs".

Additionally a set of five choir students, comprising the MPHS Honor Choir, attended the Colorado Choral Directors' Honor Choir concert event held at Mesa State University in Grand Junction. The five MPHS students who attended that event were: Kiyah Woodward, Karmen Reynolds, Matthew Hardman, Evan Olson and Shayna Hickox.

HOLIDAY CONCERT OFFERINGS

When the choirs convene in the MPHS Auditorium next Wednesday they will be focusing most of their attention on Christmas and Holiday favorites. The sixth-grade choir will perform the crowd pleasing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and the traditional holiday song "The Holly and the Ivy".

The massive seventh and eighth-grade Choir will be singing "Jingle Bell Rock", "The Sound of Silence" and "I lived", a contemporary song by the band One Republic. Pregeant said the students themselves requested "The Sound of Silence" as one of their performance songs. "The kids love it (The Sound of Silence)," Pregeant said "Any time the kids love it that's great and it's even better that it is a classic. I feel lucky when the kids buy into something with some history."

The MPHS Choir will perform a series of four songs, "Welcome Christmas" from the movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "White Winter Hymnal", "Carol of the Bells" and finally an original song created by East Grand Middle School Music Tutor Lynnea Godfraux called, "Christmas Time in the Rockies". "Lynnea wrote and arraigned that," Pregeant said. "The kids ask for it every year. It has become something of a tradition."

SPRING SCHEDULE

Following next week's Holiday Choir Concert the choirs of the East Grand School District will be turning their attention to their spring performance schedule. Members of the MPHS Honor Choir will be participating in Honor Jazz Aspen after the New Year. Pregeant will serve as an accompanying pianist for that performance.

In April the younger Grand County students will perform at the "Spring Sing" held at the EGMS. The Spring Sing brings together the EGMS Choirs as well as the music programs from Fraser Valley Elementary and Granby Elementary with each school performing separately and then all three schools performing together as one.

Towards the end of the year the entire MPHS Choir will participate in "The Project", the annual gathering of music departments from four local school districts with students from each schools respective band and choir performing together as a single unit. Additionally the MPHS Choir will attend the State Choir Festival towards the end of the school year.

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