Ouachita Baptist University’s School of Fine Arts will present its 22nd annual production of A Festival of Christmas on Nov. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Jones Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. Current Ouachita students receive one free ticket with their IDs.
“A Festival of Christmas is one of our biggest productions and reaches one of the largest audiences for the School of Fine Arts,” said Dr. Gary Gerber, musical director of A Festival of Christmas. Gerber also serves as chair of the Division of Music, director of choral activities and professor of music.
A Festival of Christmas began in 1992 following the opening of Jones Performing Arts Center. “The president at the time, Dr. Ben Elrod, wanted to have a big showcase event,” said Gerber. “Dr. Charles Wright, who was dean of OBU’s School of Fine Arts at the time, came up with an idea of doing a big Christmas production.” With that, A Festival of Christmas was born and has been an annual event ever since.
“It is a festive celebration of the birth of Christ and is a gift from OBU to the community of Arkadelphia and surrounding cities, as well,” said Dr. Becky Morrison, director of Women’s Chorus and assistant professor of music.
“A Festival of Christmas is not just a regular concert with the normal Ouachita audience,” Gerber added. A large percentage of the audience comes from various church groups that attend A Festival of Christmas on a regular basis, “as a way of starting off their holiday season.”
While the production typically takes place at the beginning of December, this year’s concert will occur earlier due to an unusually late Thanksgiving. With only one week of classes left in the semester following Thanksgiving break, the School of Fine Arts wanted to reserve that time for students to focus on their finals.
Highlighting the theme, “Celebrate the Season,” A Festival of Christmas will still present audience members with beloved Christmas tunes as in years past. According to Gerber, the show will begin by celebrating “the secular aspects of Christmas,” with Santa Clause, reindeer, sleighs and other typical winter scenes. Songs such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Blue Christmas” and “The Christmas Waltz” will be presented during this portion of the production.
The second half of the show will “move into more of the traditional, sacred songs,” Gerber said. “Mary Did You Know?”, “Let Us Adore Him” and “O, Holy Night” are a few of the songs that will be included in the sacred half of A Festival of Christmas.
Five performing groups will make up this year’s production: Ouachita Singers and Concert Choir, both directed by Gerber; Ouachita Sounds, directed by Mary Worthen, assistant professor emerita of music; Women’s Chorus, directed by Morrison; and the Ouachita Pit Band, which will feature the division’s instrumental students.
Also included will be the Festival of Christmas Dancers, members of the concert choir who will provide visual aesthetics by dancing and acting. Dr. Scott Holsclaw, dean of OBU’s School of Fine Arts, will serve as stage director and Stacy Hawking, a sophomore musical theatre major from Sherwood, Ark., will serve as choreographer.
“All the groups draw together to pull off the production and be a part of A Festival of Christmas,” said Gerber.
Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. Students with a valid OBU ID may receive one free ticket. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during business hours.
Ouachita Baptist University’s Jazz Band will perform a concert at Jones Performing Arts Center on Monday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. The band will perform a variety of genres ranging from swing to hip-hop. The concert is free and open to the public.
“Students should definitely come to the jazz concert,” said Brent Nessler, a senior music education major from Rowlett, Texas, who plays tenor saxophone in the band. “It’s always a fun night displaying all sorts of jazz, funk, Latin and even some pop tunes.”
By attending the event “students at OBU will gain an appreciation for the jazz genre of music,” said Bret Steed, a senior music performance major form Idabel, Okla., who plays trombone. “The Jazz Band concert has something for everyone. Their feet will be tapping, bodies will be moving and hearts will be racing.”
Nessler added that he loves when people approach him “after a performance to say that they had never listened to jazz before but because of the concert have gained a real interest in the art.”
“I love working with the students,” said Jazz Band Director Dr. Craig Hamilton. “I enjoy watching them grow and improve from the first rehearsal to the concert. I enjoy making music with the band.” Hamilton also serves as OBU’s director of bands and the Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music.
The Jazz Band concert set list includes: “18th Circle” by Dave Mills; “On Green Dolphin Street” by Bronislau Kaper and Ned Washington and arranged by Frank Mantooth; “Sway” by Norman Gimbel and Pablo Beltran Ruiz and arranged by Mark Taylor; “Brother Mister” by Christian McBride and arranged by Mike Kamuf; “Vertigo” by Doug Beach; “The Man I Love” by George and Ira Gershwin and arranged by Dave Wolpe; “Afro Blue” by Mongo Santamaria and arranged by Michael Philip Mossman; “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain and arranged by Paul Baker; “Don’t Know Why” by Jesse Harris and arranged by Paul Murtha; “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by Sting and arranged by Paul Murtha; and “Barbeque” by Mike Carubia.
Each year, a featured vocal soloist is chosen by audition. This year, Carli Sasser, a senior music education major from Hamburg, Ark., won the role. She will sing in “The Man I Love,” “Sway,” and “Don’t Know Why.”
In addition to Nessler, Jazz Band saxophonists include: Zach Barber, a sophomore music education major from Mansfield, Texas, on alto saxophone; Allison King, a senior music education major from Fort Worth, Texas, on alto saxophone; and Chelsea Villanueva, a junior music education major Bentonville, Ark., on tenor saxophone.
On the trumpets are: Lindsay Palmer, a sophomore music education major from Idabel, Okla.; Alexandra Lawson, a freshman accounting major from Texarkana, Texas; Kelly Cortez, a junior biology and Spanish major from McKinney, Texas; and Kacie Richards, a freshman biology major from Springdale, Ark.
In addition to Steed, trombones players include: Jason Potts, a freshman music education major from Springdale, Ark.; Kaden Sosebee, a sophomore Christian studies major from Fort Smith, Ark.; and Dalton King, a freshman music education major from Greenwood, Ark.
On the piano is Weston Wills, a freshman music education major from Norphlet, Ark. On the guitar is Garrett Lee, a freshman music major from Searcy, Ark. On the bass is Justin Massey, a sophomore music education major from Weatherford, Texas. On the drums are Drew Ervin, a senior music and computer science major from Springdale, Ark., and Stephen Vaughn, a freshman church music major from Hot Springs, Ark.
For more information contact Dr. Craig Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5137.