Every year at the end of the fall semester, Oklahoma Christian University celebrates the upcoming holiday season by hosting the Cocoa and Carols concert, featuring the Jazz Band, Orchestra and Chorale ensembles.
Director of the symphonic band George Schrader said he is looking forward to performing traditional pieces known by many.
“I always look forward to doing the last piece of the traditional White Christmas and performing that with everybody,” Schrader said. “It’s always a lot of fun.”
Since the semester ends mid-November, Schrader said there is a unique challenge in getting the musical numbers prepared in time.
“We’re always under a big time crunch here with Cocoa and Carols, yet the students always get into a more relaxing setting of playing music they enjoy,” Schrader said.“There is a little bit of a challenge of getting things ready, but the students work really hard, and I am very appreciative of that.”
With the holidays at the forefront of the season, Schrader said Cocoa and Carols is a reminder of how important our pull to family is.
“I think it’s getting people into the mindset of family, friends, and just spending time with one another, and getting into the mindset of Christmas,” Schrader said. “I enjoy the turning of the seasons and the pull towards family. Cocoa and Carols is an opportunity to bring people together and get them in the spirit.”
Through this term, Schrader said he has seen significant growth in the students and their performance.
“We’ve seen some significant growth in the band as musicians over the semester. I am very proud of them in terms of their growth, and I am looking forward to seeing what we can do next term to continue their growth,” Schrader said. “I am really proud of the symphonic band.”
With graduation approaching, Schrader said there are two seniors playing for the last time with the symphonic band.
“We have two seniors we’re saying goodbye to this term, Kamden Minor and Laura Stanley. We will miss them and are looking forward to sharing the stage with them one more time,” Schrader said.
Junior Audrey Johnson, who is a member of the Orchestra, said her favorite number of this concert is an older piece.
“My favorite piece we are playing this year is Wexford Carol, which is a popular Irish Christmas carol that dates back to the 12th century. I really enjoy playing it because it is such a simple, yet beautiful piece.”
Johnson said her favorite aspect of orchestra this semester has been getting closer to her classmates.
“My favorite part of orchestra this year, I’d say, is just growing closer as a class,” Johnson said. “We didn’t gain any new members from last semester, so it’s nice to be able to connect more with those you already know, and it being a small ensemble really helps.”
Additionally, Johnson said her favorite part of the concert is the well-loved tradition at the end.
“My favorite part of Cocoa and Carols is all of the ensembles coming together at the end to play White Christmas,” Johnson said. “”It is just a fun tradition we do every year that everyone looks forward to.”
Cocoa and Carols will take place tonight at 7 p.m. in Baugh Auditorium. Admission is free and refreshments will follow.