Mason Choirs to celebrate the season with return of Elegant Holiday

By Isabelle Paley | The Chronicle 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and to kick off the festive season, Mason Choir is singing to spread holiday cheer.

Mason Choirs’ annual holiday celebration, Elegant Holiday, is set to occur for two nights on December 10th and 11th in the Mason Auditorium. This celebration kicks off the holiday season by combining song and food into one musical experience. 

For 20 years, one of the most important parts of Elegant Holiday is embodying the spirit of the holiday by bringing families together. One of the ways the choir teachers hope to accomplish this is by integrating songs from a variety of different cultures into their performance repertoire. 

Choir director Katie Hayward, who instructs Una Voce Green, Una Voce White and Women’s Choir, believes that the multicultural lineup helps foster the holiday spirit for anyone in the audience.

“The holidays are about [spending] time together and about community and that can look different in [any] culture,” Hayward said. “We’re blessed with a community that is so diverse, and it is a beautiful thing to be able to represent some of that diversity with our music.”

This year the choir will be singing a Scottish folk song, a Spanish carol, and an African piece as well as some more contemporary songs from artists like *NSYNC and Katy Perry. Choir director Jason McKee, who conducts Bel Canto, Honors Concert Choir and Men’s Choir, has been helping produce Elegant Holiday for seven years. McKee said he hopes his students become more educated about many different cultures through participating in this event. 

“I think that one of the greatest ways to break down cultural barriers between people is to share one another’s music and food,” McKee said. “By creating this experience for our students, even though they cannot go to these [places], they can still experience the music of another culture.” 

Another key aspect of this concert is the tradition that comes with it. Each choir group has a traditional song that they look forward to singing each year. McKee believes that recurring songs for the choirs are another holiday tradition that everyone can look forward to. 

“Each choir has a traditional piece that they sing,” McKee said. “The students get [so connected] with the songs that quite honestly, if I tried to get rid of them, there would be [chaos].” 

Every year, the Men’s Choir sings “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”, and Bel Canto sings “The 12 Days After Christmas.” But McKee said that one of the spotlights of the show comes from the Honor’s Concert Choir and their rendition of “Fruitcake”. Fruitcake, according to Mr. McKee, is a taboo topic among choir directors for the unsophisticatedness it possesses, but the importance of the song to the audience is why it keeps appearing on the program every year. 

“Fruitcake is a silly novelty piece in which each section of the choir sings about a different aspect of making a fruitcake,” McKee said. “I think people wouldn’t even come to Elegant Holiday if I cut out that song because it’s so beloved.”

After a year of hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mason Choir is ready to start performing in front of an audience again. Hayward said that she is ready for a sense of normalcy, especially during this holiday season. 

“We’ve had a year and a half where we haven’t been able to sing to an audience and so it’s just incredible that our kids will be able to spread some holiday joy,” Hayward said. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, some changes had to be made to the concert due to spacing restrictions. Instead of hosting the concert in the commons with dessert tables at the back, this year’s concert is going to be hosted in the auditorium with goody bags filled with holiday treats for the guests. But, Hayward believes that this change is going to make Elegant Holiday even better, as it allows for the students to be seen singing on a stage while still allowing them to connect to their audience. 

With Elegant Holiday quickly approaching, McKee warns people that if they want to attend the festive event, they need to get their tickets fast, as they are selling quickly. Students, directors, and audience members alike are all excited to see the return of Elegant Holiday. McKee believes this year is going to be better than ever, as everyone is itching to return to the stage. 

“When you think of choirs, the holiday season is typically when we are front and center,” McKee said. “It’s our time to shine.”  

Tickets can be purchased here