Preview: Holiday choir and band mash-up

The semester may be ending, but the festivities are just beginning at Pierce College. 

The choir and symphonic band will be performing their annual festive holiday concerts Thursday, Dec.12 and Saturday, Dec.14 at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Building Mainstage. 

Students taking the music 501 class along with high school students from El Camino Real Charter High School choir will be singing a variety of holiday songs on Dec.12. The symphonic band holiday concert conducted by Dr. Wendy Mazon on Dec. 14 will be featuring music from both the October and December holidays as students will be playing pieces written by Danny Elfman, Grieg, Berlioz and others.

Dr. Garineh Avakian will be conducting the choir show and has put a lot of effort into her choir students’ performance and providing them with the best opportunities.

“We have been rehearsing every Monday and Wednesday since the beginning of the semester,” Avakian said. “They do a concert every single semester so the fall concerts are usually holiday concerts and in the spring. I try to switch it up.”

Avakian and students of the choir said that this event is where all of their hard work throughout the semester will pay off.

Student Shelley Quinn will be performing with the choir and take over conducting while Avakian sings.

“I went to Dr. Gaga just asking her how to conduct because I know basic patterns, but I wanted to expand on that because when you watch live music they’re not just conducting patterns,” Quinn said. “There’s a lot of expressive hand gestures, so I was asking Gaga and her response to me was, ‘Okay well you’re going to conduct this piece and you’ll figure that out from there.’”

Quinn said that the holiday concert is a big show so she’s happy to be a part of it and try something new.

“I’m definitely excited for this, especially because of the conducting,” Quinn said. “It’s always fun to do the winter concert because it’s festive and it’s a lot of pieces.”

Avakian said that the concert will also include students playing various instruments along with the choir. 

“Since we don’t have an orchestra or a string ensemble currently at Pierce College, what I’ve done is [gather] students that know how to play string instruments or any instruments,” Avakian said. “I’ve actually chosen pieces that have a string quartet, a violin soloist and we have a few flute players so I’ve tried to incorporate them into the concert to highlight their talents.”

Student Hannah Comstock said she is in alto within the choir and she will also be performing as part of an acapella arrangement.

“There are some classics, some new spins,” Comstock said. “We get a little multicultural but it’s all holiday songs. There’s Christmas, a couple Hanukkah pieces, some jazz pieces but also more traditional carols as well.”

Comstock said that getting into choir and performing was the start of her musical journey. She said she did not know how to read music at all until she joined Avakian’s class. 

“I love choir, it’s one of my favorite classes here,” Comstock said. “It’s kind of what got me into the whole music department. It’s a great starting point if you’re interested in music as well.”

There is a music majors meeting being held on Thursday, Dec.5 at 2:15 p.m. in room 3422 on campus. This is for students that are music majors or are considering music as a major. The entire faculty will be present as they answer questions and give out pamphlets of information regarding the programs offered at Pierce. 

Tickets for these shows are $10 and are available online at brownpapertickets.com