Orchestra, band and choir come together to spread holiday cheer at the high school

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The Newberg High School orchestra performs a rendition of 'A Christmas Triptych ... Songs of Christmas' in the school performing arts program Winter Gala on Thursday.

Newberg High School was filled with the sounds of the holiday season Thursday as the school's orchestra, choir and band joined together to perform at the annual Winter Gala. A tradition borne out of a desire to bring people together and raise money for the school's performing arts program, the gala featured a number of holiday classics performed by the various groups.

Choir director Matthew Fletcher was among the NHS staff members leading the group of performers, who came together for a special performance unlike any other in 2019.

"This is a combined concert with the wind ensemble, orchestra and a few of the choir classes," Fletcher said. "We're getting some contributions from the performing arts department as well and we all come together for one epic show. It's holiday themed and brings in stories from different cultures."

Sarah Barr led the orchestra and Joel Tanner led the band, and the groups combined featured dozens of students from the school all possessing a passion for music. The last concert for the choir was in October and Fletcher said they've been preparing for the Winter Gala ever since.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The school's symphonic choir provided light-hearted music during intermission on Thursday as well.

There is something unique and special about the various performing groups coalescing for one magical night, Fletcher said, and prior to the performance he expected Thursday's rite would live up to that.

"We do separate concerts, but when we come together like this it's really for the students' and community's benefit," Fletcher said. "We sing some pretty awesome songs by ourselves, but there's nothing quite like being in the 'Hallelujah Chorus' with a full band and orchestra behind you."

While most of the songs are truly in the spirit of the holiday season and some have religious histories, others are more lighthearted. The choir even sang a song about two geese who fell in love only to end up being served together at a human family's Christmas dinner.

Funny, heartwarming and in the spirit of the holiday season, the gala also raised money for the performing arts program in the process. There was a silent auction in the foyer of the school's auditorium on Thursday that raised a bulk of the money, as did proceeds for entrance to the gala.

Fletcher said he was thrilled prior to the concert's start and he knew that his students were as well.

"The epic scale of this concert stands out compared to the other ones," Fletcher said. "There's a sense of coming together between the performing groups. We all work on our own most of the time, but to come together for this is really special."

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