The worship band at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in the Center Grove area is used to performing in front of big audiences.
Hundreds of people lose themselves in the trumpet and trombone, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and organs during Sunday services.
But on Friday night, that audience will become significantly larger.
Thousands of people will watch the Mount Pleasant band welcome the Christmas season at one of central Indiana’s biggest holiday celebrations. The group has been invited to play at the Circle of Lights celebration in Downtown Indianapolis this year.
While revelers wait around Monument Circle for the lights to turn on, the 11-piece band will play sacred praise songs such as “Angels We Have Heard on High” and a revamped version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
“It’s such an honor for our church and our team. It’s great exposure for people who aren’t aware of Mount Pleasant. It’s a real opportunity for us to share that larger story of what we’re about,” said Brian Taber, worship and arts pastor at Mount Pleasant.
If you go
What: Circle of Lights
Where: Monument Circle
Cost: Free; the lighting also will be broadcast on WRTV-Channel 6
The band is the only one so far that has been announced to participate in the Circle of Lights celebration, event spokeswoman Jennifer Hanson said. All of the other choirs, dancers and singers have been culled through an audition process, with the winners being announced tonight.
But Circle of Lights organizers Indianapolis Downtown Inc. knew since planning started earlier in the year that they wanted Mount Pleasant to take part, Circle of Lights producer Ken Scheidler said.
“They were so energetic and so good. With that brass and those other vocalists, they’ll provide a great night of music,” he said.
Organizers asked the church in August to perform. The band members immediately accepted.
From the dozens of musicians who perform in the church’s band program, Taber chose the ones he felt best fit for this particular program. The band is an eclectic mix of performers, with a horn section, layers of percussion and four vocalists.
Rehearsals have been ongoing for about two months. The band will play for about two hours, including for the televised showing of the lighting. Selections will include “Jingle Bells,” “Joy to the World” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over).”
“Some of this stuff is a stretch for us stylistically. But we didn’t choose easy music. We wanted to challenge ourselves and put our best foot forward,” Taber said. “We found some great arrangements, too.”
Three songs will be featured on the television broadcast, along with an array of dance troupes, choirs and singers. The band will play in and out of commercials as well.
“There are going to be times when we need to extend on the fly, keep it going coming out of commercials, so that’s been a challenge,” Taber said. “But this is something we’re thrilled about.”
The band also will have the opportunity to play for Santa’s arrival — they’ll have the last song before the lights are turned on.
“We needed something uptempo to lead into that, and they came to us with ‘Jingle Bells.’ I was surprised but glad. It’s going to have great energy,” Scheidler said.