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CHS choir prepares new experience for student

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Columbus High School choir is set to perform perform at 4:30 p.m., Saturday at Nebraska Wesleyan University. 

Columbus High School Choir Director Jacob Ritter said if he can offer his students new and exciting experiences, he’s on board with it.

Soon enough, one such occasion will happen.

CHS will be joining Nebraska Wesleyan University’s choir, jazz choir and Chamber Singers and Fremont High School Saturday for NWU’s concert, Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Christmas with Nebraska Wesleyan. CHS will perform at 4:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, located on NWU Campus at 2723 N. 50th St. in Lincoln. Fremont will perform later at 7:30 p.m.

The performance will be free.

“I want the students to have an opportunity to hear and work with the Wesleyan University singers and with Tom Trenney - the director - who’s very well-renowned in Nebraska coral circles,” Ritter said. “It gives them an opportunity to see what is possible at the collegiate level and it gives them new things to strive for.”

In total, around 200 musicians are set to sing at the concert. The singers will be accompanied by a string quintet, oboe, guitar, percussion, piano and organ.

The songs will be Christmas-related tunes and some will have a twist. For example, the high school students will perform “Night of Silence” which consists of newer music as well as using the Christmas classic “Silent Night” melody, Ritter said.

Additionally, the CHS students will perform “Gloria” from Andre Thomas’ Gospel Mass and “For Unto Us, a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah.

The latter piece will include a string quartet and organist from Wesleyan. Ritter said while previous students have sung with a string quartet, it will be a new experience for this group.

“That’s incredibly exciting for us,” Ritter said.

Meanwhile, Trenney – an assistant professor of music and conductor of choirs at NWU – will serve as artistic director and conductor of the concert. He said with the COVID-19 pandemic – as well as going through a challenging political season – he’s aware of how worn out folks have been recently. He added he believes Christmastime has a message that can comfort people and bring them joy.

“We hope that Christmas with Wesleyan will open our students' hearts and minds to the comfort and joy that the season offers us, regardless of the complexities and challenges of our circumstances,” Trenney said. “We look forward to sharing a message of hope with our families and friends."

This won’t be the first time CHS has performed at a university, recently. Ritter said the students performed at the Midland University Honor Choir Festival in October as a featured ensemble after having won Midland’s Acappella competition before the pandemic.

Ritter said Trenney reached out to him last year to see about a possibility of a collaboration which turned out to be the upcoming concert.

“After talking about it and working through it, we’re really excited to go,” Ritter said.

An online program with excerpts from the concert will be available at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20. For more information, contact ttrenney@nebrwesleyan.edu.

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