8 Things You Can’t Miss at the Holiday Concert


Where do you go if you’re hungry, want to hear some great music, and the calendar says Dec. 9? Sure there’s the Lake House in Lake Bluff or the Lantern in Lake Forest, but why go there when you could come to the LFHS Holiday Concert?

The annual LFHS Holiday Concert is one of the biggest events of the music year in Lake Forest, and the falling snow and freezing temperatures are a sure sign that the day of performances is rapidly approaching. The amount of students performing marks the concert as an important event for families around Lake Forest.

“It’s a community event, harkening back to the days of It’s a Wonderful Life,” said Mr. Andy Macbeth. “This event will bring classic tidings of comfort and joy.”

Indeed comfort and joy will be rampant in the halls from the moment the Advanced Percussion Handbell Ensemble begins its first number at 3 P.M. to the final chord in the Hallelujah Chorus sung by the Choir at about 9 P.M.

One of the greatest things about the day is that almost every music group in the school gets a chance to show off the pieces they’ve been working on for the holiday season. Not to mention the extracurricular holiday groups that have been practicing for up to four months for this time of year.

Oh, and there’s food. Spaghetti to be exact. And lots of it.

At such an event, it can be difficult to take it all in at once. Should you pay attention to the delicious spaghetti on your plate or the Holiday Winds group that just walked over to serenade you? And what time does the choir concert begin?

While everything about the performances is memorable, here are eight special moments you can’t miss during the concert. The following things aren’t ranked in any particular order, Thinking of all the amazing things about the concert, band director Mrs. Janene Kessler exclaimed, “What am I not excited for?”


Number 1: Mr. Goldstein Conducting Sleigh Ride

“I’m really excited to see Mr. Goldstein conduct,” Kessler said as a huge grin spread across her face.

As per tradition, the Symphony Orchestra & Wind Ensemble vote on a guest conductor for the annual playing of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. Recent guest conductors include Mr. Yavetsky, Mr. Van Nuys, and Dr. Holland.

This year, the honor belongs to the Math Department’s very own Mr. Goldstein. He will be bringing his ingenious personality and enlightening attitude to the combined orchestra, and he does have previous conducting experience.


Number 2: The Madrigals Singers Ascending from the Pit

The Madrigal singers are the premier vocal group at LFHS, and they will make their yearly appearance at Winter Concert. But unlike other choirs that will come from the wings and sing atop risers, the Madrigals will arise from the depths aboard the lift.

Normally reserved to bring a piano from the basement to the stage or hold the pit orchestra during the musical, the lift will be used to carry all 30 Madrigal singers to the audience.

And the ascent will not be silent either. They will be singing their first song as they are lifted from darkness. It’s up to you to come and hear Christmas tune they’ll be singing.

Madrigal Singers seniors Nathaniel Martin, Zach Demet, Adam Clayton, Bryan Kingsley, Sam Randall, Jake Koefelda, and Ryan Benson at the Rotary Club pictured this past Wednesday morning.


Number 3: The Numerous Bell Choirs

One of the rarest sites to see at a school music performance is a good bell choir. A bell choir has to have an extreme sense of rhythm, and all members must play not a unit but as individuals. In bells you can’t be dependent on the person next to you. Also, a bell set costs about as much as a new midsize car.

LFHS is lucky to have a set, and also multiple groups performing with the bells. Both the Advanced Percussion Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble will be performing handbell pieces during the band and orchestra part of the concert and the Varsity Bells group will perform among the choirs. The chances to see bell choirs are limited, don’t let this opportunity pass you up!


Number 4: Christmas Eve Sarajevo played by the Holiday Strings

“I’m really excited for Holiday Strings, especially Christmas Eve Sarajevo,” Orchestra Director Mr. Robert Bassill said.

The orchestral piece made famous by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is making a return to the Spaghetti dinner. The Holiday Strings will be playing this showstopper along with other holiday favorites to listeners as they chow down on spaghetti.

Musically, Christmas Eve Sarajevo is the most involved piece the Holiday Strings play with its multiple melodies from traditional carols like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells. It truly is a piece of music you can’t miss hearing.


Number 5: Christmas Festival performed by the Combined Orchestra

Coming together is common practice this time of year, and this sentiment is also felt in the music department. The Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra will combine to play four pieces, one of them the aforementioned Sleigh Ride. But while Sleigh Ride is a fun song to play, it’s not necessarily what crowds should be pumped up for.

“The end with the full orchestra, Christmas Festival, everyone playing, it’s one big finish,” Bassill said.

One big finish indeed, Christmas Festival includes eight different Christmas carols. It’s up to you to come, listen, and decide for yourself which carol is your favorite.


Number 6: The Hallelujah Chorus

Is there really a need to write anymore? The conclusion to Part II of George F. Handel’s The Messiah is one of the most well known pieces in the entire world. Some people even feel reverent enough of the words sung that they stand for entire piece.

Every choir at LFHS will be singing for the finale of the Winter Concert. The Glee Club, Select Singers, Balladiers, and Foresters will join with choir alumni to sing the Hallelujah Chorus and finish off this year’s show with a bang.


Number 7: The Shalom Candles

Immediately preceding the Hallelujah Chorus in during the choir concert is the singing of Shalom. For this LFHS tradition, the choirs spread around the auditorium – in the aisles, along the front of the stage, in the balconies – to sing this Hebrew song.

What is really special about Shalom is the setting. As the singers are making their ways to their positions, the house lights in the theater will slowly dim until the entire auditorium is completely black. Then choir director Mr. Tim Haskett’s candle will illuminate and will begin conducting and lead the combined choirs in the piece. At pre arranged times, every student’s candle will be lit and the room will be a wonder to behold.

It certainly is a moment you can’t afford to miss.


Number 8: The Flute Choir debuting two new pieces.

The final thing you just have to see at the Holiday concert is the Flute Choir. They will be introducing two new pieces, Contredanse and Carol of the Bells.

Carol of the Bells is the better known song of the two, but who doesn’t want to hear more of that beautiful melody. In fact, the Madrigal singers will also be performing this later on in the concert. What would be really neat is listening to both renditions of the song and deciding what you liked about each.

What might be more foreign and new is Contredanse. A Contra-Dance is a long line partner dance that is performed periodically throughout the United States, but has its origins in English and Scottish country dance. The flutes will look to replicate this by playing in four-part harmony. You may feel like getting up and dancing yourself!