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Cocoa and Carols brings new traditions

With the semester coming to an end, students at Oklahoma Christian University were able to enjoy one last Christmas event on campus.

This year marked the 36th year for the beloved campus Christmas tradition, Cocoa and Carols, and Associate Professor of Music Kyle Pullen enjoyed taking the tradition under his wing for the first time.

“I was able to have a lot of people help me with putting the show together this year,” Pullen said. “It was really kind of a collaborative effort.”

Junior and member of Oklahoma Christian’s chorale, Andrew Zapata, was happy to be able to work with Pullen for the show.

“I loved Dr. Adams,” Zapata said. “I think he was brilliant, but Dr. Pullen is just a breath of fresh air. I am really able to understand his teaching easily. I have thoroughly enjoyed him and I think almost all of chorale could say the same thing.”

Senior and member of the chorale Cody Summerville is thankful for the new level of energy Pullen brings to the table.

“Dr. Pullen has lots of energy and is very well organized,” Summerville said. “He is really great at explaining and demonstrating the specific sounds that he wants. It’s great that he is so lively during rehearsals because it keeps you easily engaged.”

The show is known for being a time of fun holiday cheer brought to the audience by listening to a variety of Christmas carols.

“Most of the night is Christmas carols in different arrangements,” Pullen said. “The choir, chorale, chamber singers, orchestra, symphonic band and the jazz band will be playing.”

Oklahoma Christian’s President John deSteiguer opened the night by welcoming the audience to the festivities followed by the choir singing a processional as they walked in. Pullen described the general layout and order of the show.

“Cocoa and Carols has traditionally had a lengthier piece to be sort of the main music of the night and that’s what the piece by Monteverdi served as,” Pullen said. “After we perform that the rest of the night is mainly Christmas carols.”

Even though there was a new director taking on the show, there were few changes to the program in general. Pullen explained that the program stuck to tradition for the most part.

“The program was generally the same as it had been in the past,” Pulled said. “However, it was shorter. It was about an hour and a half to an hour and forty minutes. It’s been close to two and half hours in the past.”

Pullen was happy to take on Cocoa and Carols and enjoyed the traditional format of the show.

“I really enjoyed directing this year mostly just because it is new and fresh to me,” Pullen said. “I like that a Christmas concert is more of a production rather than just getting up and singing a few carols. It is really well put together just thanks to everyone knowing how this traditionally goes.”

This was Zapata’s third year to take part in Cocoa and Carols.  He explained why he looks forward to the show every year.

“I don’t see why you can’t love Cocoa and Carols,” Zapata said. “It’s just a big, grand musical event with Christmas music and all the performers get to dress nice.”

Being a music vocal performance major, Zapata is glad to have another opportunity to perform something everyone enjoys in Cocoa and Carols.

“Just performing and being up there is so much fun,” Zapata said. “It’s such a great experience to be a part of this event.”

Sophomore and chorale member Amber Cox liked being able to look nice to perform with her peers for the event.

“I like that we all get to dress up and look fancy,” Cox said. “All the girls get to dress up in formal floor-length dresses. This year the choir got to sing with the Oklahoma Christian orchestra whereas last year we sang with the Oklahoma community orchestra. It’s nice being able to perform with all Oklahoma Christian people.”

Summerville appreciates the amount of people that attend this concert out of tradition.

“I think a lot of the reason so many people go is just because it is a fun tradition,” Summerville said. “And everyone likes when we have the artificial snow fall down from the lights.”

Zapata is glad there is another way for the Oklahoma Christian community to get in the Christmas spirit.

“Christmas gets everyone excited as it is and I think Cocoa and Carols is a great way to add to the excitement,” Zapata said. “And everyone gets excited for the cocoa and cider as well.”

Pullen recognizes that the Oklahoma Christian community finds Cocoa and Carols to bring a lot of joy and excitement.

“I appreciate the fact that it’s just really entertaining all around,” Pullen said.

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