SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Concert 2021 Review

After two weeks, I’ve finally written a post-concert review for my school’s 2021 Christmas Concert.  I didn’t intend for it to premiere on Christmas Day, but there you go!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Two weeks ago, on 10 December 2021, my music students at the high school had their big Christmas concert. This was the first live Christmas concert since 2019, and only the second live concert since The Age of The Virus shut everything down.

This concert was important for another reason: it was a bit of a redemption from the infamous “Corporate Christmas” concert of December 2019. That concert was marred with technical problems, over-programming (the Drama teacher at the time insisted on adding Christmas skits to what is an already-bloated event), and scheduling issues.

So, the hidden agenda for the 2021 Christmas concert was to wash clean the bad taste of the 2019 concert. Fortunately, I’d say we succeeded.

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Flashback Friday^2: Christmas and its Symbols

Okay, okay—it’s not Christmas.  But, hey, close enough, right?

There will be an actual Christmas post tomorrow morning, though it’s going to be very short.  But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn “Flashback Friday” into “Flashback Friday^2,” angering mathematicians and calendar enthusiasts everywhere.

The original post in this “series,” “Christmas and its Symbols,” contains some excellent Christmas wisdom.  So often we hear Christmas denounced as a secretly “pagan” holiday because we hang wreaths, put up trees, and dangle mistletoe.  But as one meme I’ve seen recently put it (to paraphrase), “Yes, I love to display the trophies of my vanquished foes.”

Christianity sure did kick—and continues to kick—some butt.  We could probably do with some more warrior-monks running around with maces and clubs.

For this weekend and beyond, though, Jesus—as He always does—will do.

With that, here is “Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols“:

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Lazy Sunday CXLIV: More Christmas Carols

Christmas is just six days away!  It’s hard to believe, but here we are yet again.

It’s been a great season for Christmas carols, which I’ve enjoyed playing—with gusto.  I’ve gotten “Joy to the World” down to a science, it seems.  I’ve also been whipping out some of the more obscure gems.

Merry Christmas!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Post-Concert Analysis is Coming

Yesterday’s Christmas concert went well, and I’m relieved to have it done.  I’m blessed to work with some super talented kids, and they are very dedicated to our Music Program.

I’ll be writing up a full analysis of it, as well as a gig I played with my buddy John last night, for SubscribeStar subscribers.  I should have the posted sometime Sunday afternoon.

For now, though, I am celebrating Christmas with my girlfriend.  We got each other some LEGO sets, so we’ve been building those this afternoon while watching TV and generally chilling out.

See you soon!

—TPP

Supporting Friends Friday: Frederick Ingram’s Christmas Groove

Today is the day of the big Christmas concert at school, and despite some moments of despair earlier in the week, I am feeling cautiously optimistic about the whole thing.  The kids are going to do a wonderful job, I am sure; I’m more worried about getting all of the tech stuff done in time, but it will happen, one way or another.

That said, it’s going to be a short Supporting Friends Friday this week—at least for me.  You, dear reader, get to listen to six minutes and twenty-four seconds of an excellent new Christmas track from my good buddy Frederick Ingram.

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TBT: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

My school’s big Christmas concert is tomorrow—the first once since December 2019, the infamous “Corporate Christmas” concert—and my Middle School Music class is playing and singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”  It’s one of my favorite carols, and is apparently my pastor’s favorite.

We’re doing the iconic first verse, as well as the third verse, which echoes the themes of the first.  There’s a great line—“ris’n with healing in His wings”—that just sounds epic.  It’s such a regal tune, perfect for The King of Kings arriving on Earth to save His fallen Creation.

Fortunately, my Middle School students seem to agree, and I am proud of their rendition.

With that, here is 8 December 2020’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing“:

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Christmas Concert Preparations

My apologies to readers who are used to waking up to a fresh Portly post in their inboxes, ready to enjoy over a hot cup of coffee at 6:30 AM.  Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been working pretty much nonstop.  Since probably 2009, when I started my two-year stint as the Cultural Coordinator at the Sumter Opera House in Sumter, South Carolina, the first half of December has been a brutal yuletide slog for yours portly.

Christmas 2010 was particularly grueling, with an event at the Opera House every night for the first two weeks of the month, including outdoor music on weekends for the City’s Festival of Lights.  I was so stressed that I developed a painful sore on the roof of my mouth, which made it unpleasant to eat anything but the softest of foods.  That was an unintentional blessing, as it kicked off my 2011 Weight Loss Odyssey, a journey during which I shed a whopping 110 pounds in about eleven months.  Even in extreme stress, there are hidden blessings.

Regardless, my Christmastimes for the past decade have been jam-packed with events.  That’s not always a bad thing:  I like keeping busy, and Christmas gigs can be very lucrative (about four years ago I played a bank Christmas party while suffering from a gnarly head cold, but a steady supply of cough drops and water got me through to the $300 reward on the other side).  There is one event that looms over all others this time every year, though, one that I paradoxically love and dread:  the annual school Christmas concert.

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It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

This past Sunday was the first of December, and my first time back at my little church since Thanksgiving.  That meant it was time—finally!—to play some Christmas carols.

We started the service with a rousing congregational singing of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” which is apparently my pastor’s favorite carol.  Our second congregational singing was “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” a beautiful little hymn with some interesting harmonies and leaping melodies—typical of carols.

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