Music

Making a Joyful Noise

Or how I got my seasonal groove back

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It is true that, not long ago and for many years, I did not favor Christmas music.

To be clear: I’m no Scrooge. I have plenty of seasonal spirit. I love the twinkly lights and the smell of the Christmas tree and the baking of cookies and the watching of It’s a Wonderful Life and the pictures with Santa and the mistletoe and almost every bit of holiday magic I can get my hands on. I’ve even managed to steadfastly cling to my love of giving and receiving gifts despite my creeping suspicion that rampant, gleeful consumerism might not be contributing to the betterment of humanity.

But until recently, when it came to Christmas carols and other sounds of the season, my sentiments were more along the lines of “bah, humbug” than “these are a few of my favorite things.”

This could be owing to the fact that I grew up in a house where you were more likely to hear a Chipmunks Christmas album than one by Bing Crosby, with family members who have been known to avow that it isn’t really the holiday season until they’ve heard “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” However, it’s probably more the case that a decade-plus of working mall retail, with its piped-in soundtrack of a limited list of carols, was responsible for my cynicism with regard to the little drummer boy and those angels we have heard on high. And I haven’t even mentioned that time I donned an elf costume and tap-danced in front of a Nordstrom to the beat of “Jingle Bell Rock.” And no, it did not look anything like that scene from Mean Girls. Not least because I was 9 years old.

In other words, it wasn’t the Christmas carols. It was me.

I assumed this condition in which I would long for nothing more than a silent night would plague me for all of my days, but happily, that was not to be the case. A few years ago, I found my aversion to the seasonal inundation of fa la las and partridges in pear trees to be lessening, bit by bit until it disappeared entirely. My conversion to carol enthusiast is so complete that this year I found myself having to exert real self-control to keep from listening to holiday music until after Thanksgiving.

Lucky for me, the holiday concert season is in full swing around here—and one need only look to the listings on the next page now and during the coming weeks to see just how robust a season it is, musically speaking. But in the near future, the following are the concerts that caught my eye.

Proving that traditions as old as St. Nick require neither agedness nor instrumental accompaniment is the Showstoppers, a carefully culled crew of Bellingham High School students that embraces a mantra of “A cappella singing. All the time.” This 20-member ensemble has been the recipient of awards and accolades, meaning that when they step to the stage Dec. 4 to present their Holiday Music Program at the behest of the Bellingham Music Club, they’ll do so with all the poise of seasoned seasonal pros.
Where: Trinity Lutheran Church, 119 Texas St. Cost: Free. More info: 671-0252

It wouldn’t be the holiday season here without an appearance (or two, as the case may be) by the Bellingham Chamber Chorale. Their “Christmas with the BCC” concert has become a tradition in a season chock full of them. This time, they’ll perform seasonal standards as well as Loyd Pfautsch’s “Day for Dancing” and a trio of seasonal spirituals. It all happens Sat., Dec. 7, and tickets can be found online. Where: First Congregational Church, 2401 Cornwall Ave. Cost: $5-$20. More info: http://www.bccsings.org

The Bellingham Chamber Chorale will make an appearance the next afternoon as well, on Sun., Dec. 8, but this time they’ll be guests and the mighty Whatcom Symphony Orchestra will play host at an annual Holiday Concert of their own. If you’ve never seen a world-class orchestra play its way through a program of seasonal favorites, it’s probably safe to say you have not embraced all this holiday has to offer. However, given the popularity of the WSO’s Christmas concert, I’m probably preaching to the long-since-converted. Along with the Bellingham Chamber Chorale, the Bellingham Children’s Choir will also lend their talents, with the Mount Baker Theatre providing a suitably stunning locale for all this joyful noisemaking.
Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St. Cost: $12-$35. More info: http://www.mountbakertheatre.com

While it is much further in the future with many holiday concerts taking place between now and then, I’d like to bring your attention to a Dec. 22 show featuring Mark O’Connor. The renowned fiddler is a genre-smashing, boundary-ignoring master of his craft, and when he makes his way to Bellingham, it will be to treat us to the sounds of an Appalachian Christmas. I have a feeling the show will be a popular draw, and we could all use a few reminders to relax and take in a little entertainment in order to properly navigate the hustle and bustle of the season with our Christmas spirit firmly intact.
Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St. Cost: $20-$59. More info: http://www.mountbakertheatre.com

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