Riders Perform Tunes

ST. MARYS — The seventh and eighth grade choir and band students at St. Marys Middle School performed their annual holiday concert yesterday evening to a full house.

Guests who arrived shortly before the performance had to stand because every seat in the auditorium was filled.

Seventh-Grade Band Director Dane Newlove led the students in their first song, “Deck the Halls With Dazzling Drummers,” which, as the title suggests, was dominated by its drummers. This added life to a traditional holiday tune.

Their next song, “Trombones on the Housetop,” was a spin-off of “Up on the Housetop,” in which the trombones had several whimsical solos.

Next, the eighth-grade band, directed by Becky Anderson, took the stage. They began with the traditional “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and then brought some energy to the crowd with “Christmas Swings,” a jazzy medley that included “Jingle Bell Rock” — which had one little girl dancing in her seat — ‘Frosty the Snowman” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Their last piece was the slow and lilting, “Stille, Stille, Stille.”

The eighth-grade choir then joined them, led by Choir Director Christy Taylor, who invited the audience to sing along to several classic Christmas songs. Among them were “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” The audience sang the loudest to “Frosty the Snowman.”

The seventh-grade choir, with its seven boys lined up in front against a backdrop of girls, sang next. Their first piece, “Let’s Celebrate His Birth,” was joyful and upbeat, while the next song, “Peace on Earth (Silent Night),” was soft and sweet.

The boys and girls alternated lines for parts of “Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Next, the eighth-grade choir had its turn to rock the stage, which they did with the Jackson 5 version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” They transitioned to a more traditional, serious tone with their next song, “Little Drummer Boy.”

The seventh and eighth-grade choirs continued their tradition of ending the night with “Rockin’ on a Christmas Eve,” but added a special twist at the end — Santa himself popped out of a large present offstage, evoking laughter and applause from the audience.

Taylor beamed as the crowd thinned and students hustled to put away instruments and chairs.

“I am so proud of them,” she said. “This year, both groups made major improvements.”

Anderson echoed those sentiments.

“I was very happy with the way my students performed,” Anderson said.

Newlove was just as happy with the event’s turnout.

“I am very pleased with their performance,” he said. “Both our songs are a little bit difficult for seventh graders.”