The imagery in one of the holiday season’s most iconic songs, “White Christmas,” perfectly captures the nostalgia the holidays can bring.
Treetops glisten, children listen for sleigh bells in the snow, and the wish is for everyone’s days to be merry and bright.
That ideal Christmas is the thread that runs through this year’s series of Indianapolis Children’s Choir holiday concerts.
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“I really hope people get the feeling of the holiday spirit, that their hearts are warmed and that it brings back fond memories of past holidays,” said Joshua Pedde, artistic director for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. “But there’s also the message that ‘White Christmas’ really brings: of home and family and tradition. Ultimately, there’s a sense of goodwill this time of year.”
Thousands of youthful voices, including many from Johnson County, will ring out the sounds of Bing Crosby and seasonal classics in a series of four concerts this month. The Indianapolis Children’s Choir, central Indiana’s premier vocal music organization for kids, has planned a variety of shows throughout the region to showcase the talents of local singers and set the holiday mood.
The concerts will be a chance to connect with audiences in a meaningful way, while changing some perceptions about what these holiday concerts are all about.
“I think people come in expecting this run-of-the-mill school concert, with everyone singing old carols that everyone has heard and that they’ll never remember after the concert,” said Ray Landis, a 13-year-old Greenwood resident and member of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. “What we’re doing is in a completely different ballpark. We’re singing college-level songs, in a completely different way that people haven’t heard before.”
The Indianapolis Children’s Choir has been introducing kids to vocal music and helping develop local talent since it was formed in 1985. At that time, it consisted of two small choirs made up of area children.
The organization has grown to include nearly 2,500 young people in its choirs and weekly classes, including a regional choir that meets in Johnson County every Monday at Center Grove Church.
Each year, the choir organizes a full season of concerts. But nearly half of that is dominated by its holiday slate, Pedde said.
“It’s a time when a lot of people think about going and doing something as a family. A lot of times, music is the center of that,” he said. “We hope that people will take some time to see what the children’s choir has to offer during Christmastime.”
Ray Landis and his brother Micah, also 13 years old, have been a part of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir for the past three seasons. The choir is a family tradition for them, as both of their parents, Mark and Kate Landis, met as members of the choir.
Singing like this is an opportunity to further their own love of music with a professional group, Micah Landis said.
The four holiday concerts, which will be conducted Dec. 15 and 16, all have slightly different focuses and include a variety of children participating in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir activities.
“There’s some old stuff, but stuff that will spark your memories too,” Micah Landis said.
Unifying all of the shows is the music and themes of classic holiday crooner Bing Crosby.
The concerts will all include different levels of choirs and performers, ensuring that nearly all the participants in the organization get to sing and take part, Pedde said.
At the center of the performance schedule is the two-night Angels Sing concert. The classic holiday performance leans heavily on the songs and themes of Bing Crosby.
“Mr. ‘White Christmas’ himself is what the audience can expect to hear. But maybe there’s a new little twist on it, or done in a little bit of a different fashion,” Pedde said.
One of the concerts, Celebrate the Season on Dec. 16, includes performances by younger performers and the varying regional choirs throughout the area. The Johnson County Children’s Choir has been preparing since early November for the show.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for the students. We work for weeks on this music and then we get to see the finished product with all of our levels with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir,” said Melissa Garcia, director of the Johnson County Children’s Choir. “It’s amazing to see the kids realize they are apart of something bigger than just ‘Johnson County’ or ‘Franklin;’ they are the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.”
Angels Sing features the advanced performers, while the Sounds of the Season spotlights high-school level singers who have been involved with the organization for years.
Organizing a huge number of singers, with varying age groups and skill levels, is a monumental task, Pedde said. But it’s an important part of the educational component of the choir, and thus vital to the organization’s overarching mission.
“Even though we’re putting on a show, it’s a musical education organization,” Pedde said. “There’s so much teaching that goes into it. Not just the staging and the final performance, but all of the background information to it, really teaching these kids, especially in the beginning level choirs, to properly read that music and reach the tone we want, to be true musicians as they grow up.”
Indianapolis Children’s Choir
What: An Indianapolis tradition featuring the different groups within the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, with music inspired by the holiday classics of Bing Crosby.
When: Dec. 15 and 16
Where: St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St., Indianapolis
- Angels Sing, 7 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16; a concert featuring the choir’s most advanced students
- Celebrate the Season, 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16; a concert featuring younger students and those participating in regional choirs from the area, including the Johnson County Children’s Choir
- Sounds of the Season, 3 p.m. Dec. 16; a concert featuring high school-aged students
Tickets: $13 for adults; free for children 5 and under