12 Days of Christmas Spirit
The Lincoln Sunrise Singers welcomed their classmates to school Friday with a Christmas concert first thing in the morning. The 30 vocalists serenaded a gymnasium full of kids with songs before the school day got under way.
Friday morning’s concert was just one of many performances of the Sunrise Singers this week and next. The group sang at three nursing homes Thursday afternoon. It will accompany the high school band in another concert tonight at the Washington Community Center at 7 p.m. Then the singers will do a few more shows next week for two other nursing homes.
The Sunrise Singers are a group of fifth-graders who meet twice a week before school to rehearse music. The club used to consist of fifth-and sixth-graders but the sixth-graders have moved to the middle school. The students meet at 7:15 a.m. and practice for about 45 minutes.
Lincoln vocal music director Julie Hill chose a wide variety of music for the children to sing. One song was in Latin, “Dona Nobis Pacem,” which means “Grant Us Peace.” Another was from the Medieval Era, “Holly and Ivy.”
The concert also featured a light-hearted parody “We Will Jingle,” based on the song “We Will Rock You” by Queen. The singers closed the concert by inviting everybody in the gym to join in singing “Jingle Bells.”
Hill said she didn’t want to stretch the singers too far this year, knowing that the fifth-graders would shoulder the entire load.
“For some of them, this is their first choir experience,” she said.
Hill wanted to stick with tried-and-true songs she had done before, which in this set included “Dona Nobis Pacem” and another called “Calypso Noel.”
“I want something where the kids are going to learn some style,” she said. “We want something with a smooth, legato feel, so they get used to sustaining the notes.”
Some of the songs have multiple parts. Rather than call them soprano and alto, Hill refers to them as the first and second parts.
“I always try to go for something the kids will go for,” she said. “We sang through ‘We Will Jingle’ and ‘Hawaiian Christmas,’ and I asked them which ones they liked the best. I let the kids have some say on what we sing.”
Several songs incorporated some level of choreography, such as kicking their legs out, moving from side to side, and shaking jingle bells.
One of the songs, “Will you be here this December,” included a pair of duets. The first pair was Katelyn Pacha and Alexa Mitchell, while the second was Audrey Wubbena and Bailey Bryant. Hill said the kids had to try out for their duets.
“Some kids do not want to be up there by themselves, which is why we did duets,” she said.
During the number, “Hawaiian Christmas,” a group of singers pulled a kayak decorated as a sleigh through the gym. Physical education teacher Tim Balvanz rode in the sleigh and high-fived the children in the audience as he passed by.
Hill said the singers have had fun singing for the nursing homes and look forward to doing it again next week.