Inspiring holiday spirit

Nicole Lamartine, associate professor and director of Choral Activities at the University of Wyoming, conducts during a 2014 holiday concert. The 2016 Gala Holiday Concerts: A Kid’s Christmas, with performances scheduled Saturday and Sunday, features performances appealing to audiences young and old. 

Courtesy photo

When the University of Wyoming’s Director of Orchestral Activities Michael Griffith said the annual Gala Holiday Concert — this year titled “A Kid’s Christmas” — appeals to children of all ages, he doesn’t mean people younger than 18 years old. With music ranging from dense, religious holiday music to simpler, more popular Christmas songs, Griffith said everyone has something to enjoy, and its range can awaken the child in everyone.

“The term ‘kid’ has no age limit, and the holidays hopefully bring out the out the kid in all of us,” Griffith says in an email.

Hosted at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts, the 2016 Gala Holiday Concert features the Bel Canto Singers, Civic Chorus, Pan Band, Singing Statesmen, Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony, all from the UW music department. Retired UW President Tom Buchanan is also scheduled to return to the building named after him as narrator.

Griffith said it’s a great opportunity for different facets of UW’s music departments to work together on performances of everything from traditional carols to serious, sacred music.

“This time of year inspires composers, and it inspires audiences to want to hear it,” he said. “We try to balance between the fun side and the more serious side of holiday music so we’re reaching audiences on different levels and different audiences.”

The decades-long tradition is one of the music department’s most well-attended performances, Griffith said. Whether religious or secular, he said crowds seem to return each year for the inspiring, popular combination of holiday music.

“Most cultures in the world, when days get cold and short, have some celebratory holiday to mark that, and most use music as a part of that celebration,” he said. “One recurring theme that comes up a lot (with yearly Gala attendees) is that it marks the start of the holiday season for them. It gets the in the mood for the holidays and makes us reflect on their true meaning, whatever you celebrate.”

The UW Wind Symphony is expected to present a piece titled “Secret Agent Santa,” taking excerpts from “We Three Kings,” “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” and “Good King Wenceslas” overlying recognizable tunes from spy movies, Griffith says in an email. “Lullaby for a King” should remind audiences of the gifts of nurturing and loving one another. In addition to more pieces geared more toward younger members of the audience, Griffith said pieces such as the Civic Chorus adding music from Handel’s “Messiah” and the Symphony Orchestra’s offering of “Merry Christmas Overture” should appeal to those with more complex tastes.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for seniors and $6 for students. They can be purchased at the Buchanan Center or Student Union box offices or at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.

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