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Holiday tradition continues at Sunday concert

Friday, November 30, 2007  
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By Ryan Holly

Taste buds, ear drums and emotional senses will soon be in tune with the Christmas Spirit. The Oklahoma Christian University music department will present the 31st annual Cocoa & Carols at 2 p.m. on December 2 in Hardeman auditorium.

“I look at Cocoa & Carols as the kickoff to the holiday spirit. It gives everyone a free concert with beloved Christmas carols and songs, not to mention the hot cocoa and cider at intermission,” senior choral member Jason Davis said.

Cocoa & Carols is split into two primary components with cocoa and cider bridging the gap between them.

“The program is in two parts: the first part is a big composition for choir and orchestra. Over the past 30 years, we have done the major works by the great composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Brahms. The second half is Christmas music that all of the different groups perform.  At intermission, we serve cocoa and cider,” Professor of Music and Choral Conductor Ken Adams said.

This year, a brass and percussion ensemble will provide a boldly unique sound to the first half of Cocoa & Carols.

“This year, instead of having a usual orchestra with strings and winds, we are using a brass and percussion ensemble. These are all members of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic,” Adams said. “They are magnificent players, and it will be very exciting, very big sound. In the first half of the show, we are also doing a medley of Christmas carols with the brass and an organ.”

A loss of grant money is one of the causes for this change from the usual orchestra to the brass and percussion ensemble.

“The grant money is growing smaller every year, and this year it just ran out. Normally, I hire a big orchestra of about 30 pieces, but when the grant money ran out, I didn’t have enough money to hire that big of an orchestra. The grant did fall through, and that is one of the reasons why we are using a brass ensemble because 10 brass and three percussion have a really big impact,” Adams said. “When I knew that I had to have fewer players, I decided to go to brass. I’m not supplementing the grant money with any extra money; I’m just hiring fewer orchestra people.”

Cocoa & Carols is a program that demands a lot of preparation and dedication.

“For the students, it’s worthwhile because it places musical and intellectual demands on them that shorter pieces do not. They have to remain focused on the same piece for 30 to 50 minutes. These performances also put students in contact with some of the greatest choral pieces ever written,” Adams said. “For me as a conductor, it is important because nearly every year I investigate music that I know of, but I have not yet learned. As a conductor, you continue to grow by taking on new challenges and continue to develop by learning new music along with the students. For the audience, I think it is an important event for the community because it is an official opening for the Christmas season.”

Many people will agree that Cocoa & Carols is a highlight of the holiday season.

“Cocoa & Carols is the grandest concert of the year. Other concerts may be more interesting or more diverse but not nearly as grandiose in scale,” senior John Butterfield said.


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