It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Delbarton’s 2019 Christmas Concert

On stage, Delbarton students displayed the entirety of their musical talents: the Wind Ensemble, Abbey Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and the various vocal ensembles...

Jack Syzmanski, Staff Writer

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Christmas: a time for family, relaxation, thanksgiving, and prayer — and what better way to accomplish all four than some live Christmas music? As Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf put it best, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

On December 15, 2019, Delbarton put on its annual Christmas Concert. Every year, as Christmas approaches, people from across the Delbarton community gather in the Fine Arts Center, which has been festooned with beautiful holiday decorations, to celebrate the immense musical talent of the Delbarton students and students from nearby schools. After hearing the angelic voices, the soothing strings, the harmonious horns, the expressive woodwinds, and the bombastic percussion, it’s no wonder why the Christmas Concert is repeatedly the concert with the highest attendance of the year — often selling out all of the seats in the FAC auditorium! 

As families entered the lobby of the FAC on the 15th of December, the brass ensemble and woodwind ensemble greeted the guests with Christmas carols and holiday tunes. Then, after a small snack, the audience gathered in the auditorium. On stage, Delbarton students displayed the entirety of their musical talents: the Wind Ensemble, Abbey Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and the various vocal ensembles: Schola Cantorum, the Benedictones, and Arma Lucis. “Little Drummer Boy,” the first piece, featured a collaboration between the Abbey Orchestra, the Wind Ensemble, and Schola Cantorum — a classic piece to begin the holiday concert.

After the grandiose introduction to the show, the Schola Cantorum sang two mystifyingly beautiful arrangements of “Mary Did You Know” and “O Tannenbaum”. Then, the Jazz Ensemble performed a bluesy version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” followed by a soothingly groovy rendition of “Christmas Time is Here”. Then came Delbarton’s whimsical a capella group, the Benidictones, with an upbeat version “Carol of the Bells”. Keeping the beat was the Percussion Ensemble, which followed the Benedictines with “Good King Wenceslas”, arranged for both tonal instruments, such as the marimba, as well as atonal instruments, such as the snare drum. The Abbey Orchestra then raised their bows once more to play three lovely pieces: first, the beautiful “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, followed by Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Rhosymedre”, and finally, a medley of themes from “Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Following the Orchestra was Arma Lucis, Delbarton’s liturgical music ensemble, with its enchanting performance of “When Christ Was Born”. The penultimate performance group, the Wind Ensemble (which includes all horns and woodwinds along with some percussion instruments), performed three marvelous pieces: a magnificent arrangement of various themes from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, the always-enjoyable “Sleigh Ride”, and “Christmas Fantasia” — an amalgamation of several beloved Christmas tunes.

My personal favorite part of the concert, apart from playing in the Woodwind, Wind, Jazz, and Percussion Ensembles, was (and always is) the finale. In the finale, all instrumentalists and singers alike play/sing in harmony (and most of the audience can’t help but join in as well). First, the musicians performed “We Need a Little Christmas”, which never fails to inspire the Christmas spirit in every listener and performer. Then, with the final piece of the night, the focus returned to the true meaning of Christmas with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.

All of the musical components — the heavenly melody carried by the horns, supported by the delicate harmony of the strings, accompanied by the graceful counter-melodies of the woodwinds — uplifted the main spectacle: the voices of the choir and the entire auditorium glorifying the son of God in song. It’s a sight and a sound unlike any other. If you missed this year’s Christmas Concert and regret missing out on Delbarton’s talented musicians, be sure to come to the Winter Musical, “Merrily We Roll Along”, on February 8th and 9th. It’s always an outstanding show. Also, witness more instrumental, orchestral, and choral talent at the Winter Music Concerts on February 21-23. 

Thank you to Delbarton’s immensely brilliant and supportive music teachers and directors: Mr. John DiEgidio (Woodwind and Wind Ensembles), Mr. Nathan Eklund (Brass and Jazz Ensembles), Mr. Chris Hatcher (Arma Lucis, Schola Cantorum accompanist), Mrs. Norma Davis (Abbey Orchestra), Ms. Celine Fitzpatrick (Percussion Ensemble), and Mr. David Blazier (Schola Cantorum, Benedictones, direction of the opening and finale pieces).