Harmony for the Holidays

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The Best Way to Spread Holiday Cheer, Performing Loud for All to Hear

   In the iconic words of Buddy the Elf, the best way to spread holiday cheer is by singing loud for all to hear. This year, the Pacific band has embraced this sentiment, reaffirming to the Pacific University and Forest Grove communities that ‘tis the season for joy. 

   The annual Holiday Concert will be held on December 2 at 7:30 pm. Historically, the event garners a packed auditorium.

   Yet, for Micheal Burch-Pesses, Pacific’s long-time band director, the most exciting aspect of the Holiday Concert is not necessarily the full house but the opportunity it represents for his students. “As a musician and a conductor,” he told the Index, “I always want to know that what I’m passing on to the students will be of value to them, not just during the concert, but later on in life.” 

   After all, musicians must learn the value of teamwork, timeliness, and shared visions. 

   “I usually ask my students after playing our music for the first time, ‘How do you like this program?,’” said Burch-Pesses. “And if there is any concern or unhappiness about any of the music, I am willing to change to something else that the students would rather play,” he shared. 

The group has chosen creative versions of iconic holiday pieces this year, including a classic Christmas jingle, a medley of yuletide favorites, a singalong song for the audience, and a poignantly timely song based on a Ukrainian Bell Carol.

“I want the students to be satisfied they played well and to feel like the audience was sent their own way with a lighter spirit,” he passionately shared. “The music we play is there in the moment, and then it’s gone. The way that it continues on after the music stops is how the audience feels as they walk out.” 

Burch-Pesses is incredibly grateful to have wonderfully talented students. He believes that one of the unique characteristics of musicians at Pacific is that many of them are not music majors. “If this were a school of music, you would expect every player to be at the top of their game. My students are willing and able to play music at a high level. That’s a kick.

Jack Weger, a trumpeter in both the Jazz and Symphonic band, expressed that he is making his annual contribution to the concert by performing a piece he has played every year since 2020. He is looking forward to celebrating the holidays alongside a crowd of people who hold a place in their hearts for the song. What Weger admires about his director is that “Burch-Pesses knows what he wants in a piece. You can learn a million things from him, and because of that, he is someone I really look up to.” 

The choir will begin the concert by singing classic holiday pieces. The group members of the concert choir, led by Judy Rose and accompanied by Cessaries Galusha, picked songs collaboratively. “White Winter Hymnal,” “Last Christmas,” and “Once Upon a December” are a few of the six songs chosen. 

   On the other hand, the chamber choir, led by Scott Tuomi, will perform lesser-known holiday songs, such as “See Dat Bebe,” “Blow, Blow, the Winter Wind,” and “Child of Light.” Vera Voce, the women’s acapella group, will also perform tunes,such as “Ne Timeas Maria.”

   Ashlynn Weidenbenner, a freshman who is in both Chamber and Vera Voce, also expressed her love for Pacific’s musicians and music department. “I really like the chance to contribute to a larger sound. It’s nice to perform individually as well, but I like the feeling of working together with a large group to make something beautiful together.” Weidenbenner hopes everyone can appreciate the effort put into the performance. 

   And as a final message, she wants the audience to know they should not be afraid to participate.


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