Saddleback Arts kicks of the holidays with ‘A Feast of Lights’

Both the Saddleback Choir and Symphony performing together during the opening piece of A Feast of Lights. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Both the Saddleback Choir and Symphony performing together during the opening piece of A Feast of Lights. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Saddleback College’s Choir and Symphony performed “A Feast of Lights” in the McKinney Theatre from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3.  This holiday concert kicked off December with different Christmas songs in which the choir and symphony performed both together and separately.
There were two separate conductors for the night, Yorgos Kouritas and Scott Farthing. Kouritas is the director of instrumental studies at Saddleback and Farthing is a tenured music professor and teaches voice classes, applied voice, choir, musical theatre and in the Honors Program. The two swapped places as conductors throughout the night depending on which piece it was and who was playing in it.

The night started off with “Festival First Nowell” which is a traditional piece, the symphony was already seated and as they started the piece the choir slowly entered the theatre singing along. They surrounded the whole audience, creating a big circle around them as they sang.  Then towards the end of the song they slowly filed onto the stage.

The concert then proceeded with 11 other songs, each different holiday classics, some performed by both groups together as well as each music group separately. Then before the final song, the choir included a Feast of Lights Sing Along, where the crowd could stand and sing together with the choir holiday classic songs.

The sing along included songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Up on the Housetop.” One of the two pianists for the night, Catherine Tibbitts, arranged each of the five songs.

“My favorite piece was the Feast of Lights Sing Along,” Isaac Mordiani said, tenor. “It was a lot of fun having the audience sing along with us and I think it brought joy to us all.”

“The Twelve Days After Christmas” was one of the songs that only the choir presented.  This song is a humorous piece about the 12 days after Christmas, instead of before, and it is all the things that happen when something very bad happens on Christmas day.

“My favorite piece is probably ‘The Twelve Days After Christmas,’” said Seani Zeni, an alto in the choir. “We are supposed to look all serious and professional when the lyrics are really funny and you can hear the crowd laughing, which means we did our job.”

Along with sing alongs and classic holiday songs, there was also a special guest soloist piece with John Huntington, an award-winning stage and musical director and choral conductor. Huntington performed in this piece, acting as if the narrator of the story.

A Feast of Lights overall is different from the rest of the music performances throughout the year. This concert has a different dynamic to it because the choirs and the symphonies come together to perform together for the holidays.

“Feast of Lights in my opinion is so much different than other concerts,” Brandon Rashtian, tenor section leader for the choir, said. “It doesn’t simply entertain one of our senses. Feast of Lights provides an amazing experience to our audience with music, visuals, and even food. My favorite part of the Feast of Lights is simply talking with the audience once the concert is finished and hearing the reactions to the music we’ve just made.”

The concert was concluded with a decorated reception area where the audience could enjoy treats and talk with the performers.