by JONATHAN FORNEY
The holiday season came early to the Island University this year. On Friday, Nov. 20 the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi School of the Arts, Media, and Communication (SAMC) put on its 15 Annual Holiday Gala Concert in the Performing Arts Center.
In addition to being festive the concert is also an important fundraising opportunity for the Department of Music as all proceeds go toward music scholarships. Patrons’ tickets were also used for a raffle that took place during the show. Ten lucky audience members walked away with their own poinsettias.
Before the show began there were pre-show activities for the kids in attendance. Audience members could make their own ornaments, do mazes, make holiday themed ad-libs and take pictures with holiday icons. The icons included Santa, Mrs. Claus and Frosty the Snowman. Frosty was introduced as Olaf to appeal to younger children who might recognize the Disney film “Frozen.”
At 7:30 p.m. was time for the festivities to begin. Event staff handed out programs and sing-a-long lyric sheets to patrons as they took their seats.
After an address and welcome by student emcee Frank Garcia Jr., the audience was treated to a performance of “Jingle Bells” by the Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble. Next was a medley of songs from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” by the University Singers.
This performance resonated with a particular audience member, sophomore marine biology major Brittany Casey. “’The Nightmare Before Christmas” songs were my favorite. I really didn’t see that coming, but I enjoyed it a lot,” Casey said.
In between segments of the event Garcia took the time to remind audience members that they could get more information about School of the Arts, Media and Communication using the sheets provided in every program. He also explained how proceeds for the Gala would go toward students majoring or minoring in music.
After the announcements the University Orchestra performed “Linus and Lucy” from the Peanuts cartoons. Just after the song, a quiet hush fell over the audience until a member of the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Percussion Ensemble emerged with a sleigh bell. The Percussion Ensemble began playing “Blue Christmas” and had the whole crowd clapping along.
Following the Ensemble, Islander Jazz performed a two-part “Big Band Christmas” special, which included eight total songs. The songs ranged from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Camerata Isla, which was a choir of singers directed by Dr. Ross C. Bernhardt, performed “Wexford Carol” and “Christmas Time is Here” both of which were arranged by Dr. Bernhardt.
After the songs concluded Frank Garcia Jr., who also sang in Camerata Isla, came on stage to perform the raffle for poinsettias. He asked for the help of a child from the audience to help pull out the winning tickets.
Last but not least the Symphonic Winds and their conductor, Dr. Brian Shelton, performed six songs, four of which were a part of their “Christmas ‘Pop’ Sing-A-Long.” They asked audience members to become a part of the performance.
Shelton wore a bright red suit that was peppered with Santa Claus heads and thanked the audience for coming out when the sing-a-longs concluded. Kids and parents alike chimed in for the conclusion to a festive evening.
Dr. Rebecca Watson said the Music Department’s 15th Annual Holiday Gala Concert was a success.
She said her favorite part of the Gala is that “it’s great for the community. It gives us a chance to bring joy and share music with the community.”