By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
A lot of Christmas concerts give you just a band, or just a choir. Friday’s concert at Eastern New Mexico University offers both of those, plus a little international flavor and some sounds of the winter season.
The Christmas Concert, which will have two performances Friday at University Theatre Center, combines the band and choirs for ENMU to give residents a holiday show which normally fills up the UTC.
“Usually, when you see a Christmas concert, it’s either a choral concert or a band concert,” said Jason Paulk, ENMU’s director of choral activities.
“We have everybody on stage at once.”
The free event is being housed at the UTC, Paulk said, because the stage at Buchanan Hall simply cannot fit the approximate 140 students who will perform.
Even with more seating available at UTC, the shows are expected to be filled quick.
“From what I understand, it’s packed every year,” Paulk said.
“People might want to try and get there a few minutes early.”
The show, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., will feature nearly 140 students playing several pieces relevant to the holiday season, though some selections are not traditional Christmas pieces.
“I like to attempt to play pieces that contain traditional Christmas carols,” said Dustin Seifert, director of bands at ENMU, “but I also like to introduce the audience to some newer works that are seasonal in nature and note.”
One of the pieces Seifert said he selected is “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which has nothing to do with the holidays other than the inference of winter.
The concert, however, will be mostly centered around Christmas music, but Paulk said that some selections would have an international feel to them.
A Nigerian piece called “Betelehemu” includes instructor Neil Rutland on African drums and translates to Bethlehem. Other pieces include the Norwegian “Jul Jul” and the Spanish “Hacia Belen.”
“It’s always good for students to learn about other areas of culture than just their own,” Paul said.
“A world perspective is necessary for them to succeed in the world.”
Both elements of the music department spend a great deal of time working on the show.
Seifert said that as soon as football season ends, practice begins for the concert.
The practice is necessary because it’s pretty much a new show each year.
“Every piece that we’re playing on this concert,” Seifert said, “we have not performed before, save Sleigh Ride.”
Other selections scheduled for the concert include The Nutcracker Suite, Percy Grainger’s Sussex Mummers Christmas Carol and solos by ENMU instructors Jeanie Wozencraft-Ornellas and Roberto Mancusi with piano accompaniment by Kayla Paulk.
Though the event is free, ENMU professors are encouraging spectators to bring in an item of food to be donated to the Eastern New Mexico Lifesaver Foodbank.