Story and photography by Shelby Alderman

East’s choir program performed their annual Holiday Concert with the West Chester Symphony Orchestra for families, friends, and community members at the Princeton Pike Church of God on Dec. 4.

The concert featured 287 students from East’s five choirs who sang along to the accompaniment of the 63 performing members of the West Chester Symphony Orchestra. The concert was the ninth holiday concert that the two organizations have done together.

East Choir Director Becky Huddilston describes the concert as a “community collaborative event” with the symphony.

“It prepares our students to sing with professional and nonprofessional musicians from throughout the area,” Huddilston said. “The kids are not only singing with these these musicians, but they’re also getting to talk with them every week and making friendships with them. It’s really fun to watch.”

The program was supported through the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO), although the concert had been put together through the choir program’s fundraising and the symphony’s annual April Gala in previous years.

Of the four concerts that are performed yearly, this is the only choir concert of the year where all five choirs perform at the same time and the only concert with the orchestra.

“I think it’s such a great life skill for students to be performing with live musicians,” said East Principal Suzanna Davis, who has made attending the concert a tradition in her household. “They don’t always have that opportunity.”

East senior and performer for Eastside Voices and Eastside Music Company Cassie Johnson describes the yearly holiday concert as being a “more rounded experience” than that of other concerts throughout the school year.

“It’s a great bonding opportunity for the choir students,” Johnson said. “When you’re not singing, you can introduce yourself to the people around you and meet other people who share your passion for music.”

The holiday concert used to be held at the West Chester Church of the Nazarene, but the program expanded to where the venue could no longer accommodate such a large group of students. Since the program outgrew the West Chester Church of the Nazarene, the concert has been held at the Princeton Pike Church of God on Princeton Glendale Road for the past several years.

East choir alumni Malcolm King returned to experience the concert as a spectator for the first time. King continued studying music into college at Miami University, but still wishes to be a part of the program at East.

“I still wanted to be with the group,” King said. “Not even just being on stage but even just being in the back in the gym or helping to tear down. It felt weird not doing it anymore.”

The tenth annual concert will be held in 2019, and according to Huddilston, the choir program is already making plans for it.

“It’s not something we just randomly put together. It’s been a slow growth over the years,” Huddilston said. “It’s just a really fun thing to watch all come together.”

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