Chamber Choir helps ring in Christmas season at Festival of Lights

Kaitlin Clark, Entertainment Editor

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With the smell of hot chocolate in the warm Nov. 24 night air, the Manhattan High Chamber Choir sang carols at the Festival of Lights annual tree lighting in downtown Manhattan, right before a switch was thrown to turn on the tree and start the festivities.

This year was the fifth year that the choir sang at the annual tree lighting with a short performance of half a dozen carols.

“They did a great job,” Chad Pape, choir director, said.

Students were excited to perform songs that helped celebrate the upcoming season.

“I really liked the music,” Hannah Grace, senior, said. “All of the Christmas music was really fun and the Christmassy atmosphere was great.”

The performance gave students the opportunity to learn and grow as an ensemble, practicing skills they may not have had the chance to work on in a while.

“I got to see how we react without Mr. Pape [conducting] and who takes charge when needed,” McKenna Claussen, junior, said.

The choir had to work together to produce the best performance possible by balancing vocal parts.

“I had to really listen to everyone around me and kind of go with whatever they were doing,” Grace said.

Students were excited to have the opportunity to participate in the early festivities, even though it may not have felt like December.

“Warmer weather didn’t stop people from wearing light up or ugly sweaters and dorky hats,” Claussen said. “It was amazing.”

The tree wasn’t just the only attraction at the Festival of Lights, the whole block was covered in Christmas lights and decorations, with free hot chocolate and cookies provided. Later that evening was also the start of the horse and buggy rides around Manhattan.

Students enjoyed the unique experience to perform for a larger audience and showcase their talents.

“[Performing] again next year would be awesome,” Claussen said. “I wouldn’t change anything. It was about having fun and just singing.”

The upcoming holiday season made the performance even more enjoyable for Chamber Choir students.

“It was awesome,” Zach Payne, junior, said. “I love Christmas, and anything that has to do with it, and singing right before they lit the tree was a great experience.”

Mayor Linda Morse also gave a speech, and Santa made a guest appearance to greet all the children who were there.

“[The event] was really interesting and fun,” Claussen said. “It was great getting to sing with the people I care about.”

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