Christmas show wows, regardless of season

Photo Courtesy of International Youth Fellowship

Each year it seems that stores are trying to sell Christmas decorations earlier than the last. It is strange indeed to find Christmas lights in stock alongside Halloween costumes. With the markets having a premature Christmas heyday, it should come as no surprise that the Asian-based yet world-renowned Gracias Choir performs their Christmas Cantata as early as October. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, this internationally acclaimed choir gave their third 2013 performance in the Ferst Center at Tech.

The quality of the Gracias Choir’s Christmas Cantata far outweighed the unusual timing. Though it is normal for people to wait and see Christmas plays around the holiday season, anyone who avoided the Christmas Cantata based solely on it being in the wrong season missed out on a superb performance.

Just before the show began, the announcer came onstage and asked the audience to suspend their belief that it is October and to instead think that it is, in fact, Christmas. The audience gladly obliged.

The Christmas Cantata encompassed three acts. The first two acts were more than could reasonably be expected out of a choir, while the third showed that the Gracias Choir have not lost their minds and do, indeed, know what is expected of a group of their caliber.

The quality of the Gracias Choir’s Christmas Cantata far outweighed the unusual timing

Act One consisted of a play depicting the biblical story of Christmas. The choir acted out the events surrounding Jesus’s birth, spontaneously breaking into song throughout. One of the more intriguing songs of act one was “Carol of the Kings,” which is a unique mixture of the old Christmas carols “We Three Kings” and “Carol of the Bells.”

Act Two was a striking play starring a little girl learning a lesson about Christmas spirit. It seemed as though the Gracias Choir was attempting to outdo their own first act, as they put even more energy into their singing and even sang “Jingle Bells” as though it were “The Chicken Dance,” speeding up with each run through the refrain. By the end of this song, the actors (for the choir members were much more than simple singers) were frantically yet cheerily prancing across the stage, keeping time with the furiously paced orchestra.

For those who came expecting a simple choir standing stiffly at attention as the orchestra accompanied standard Christmas caroling, Act Three did not disappoint. Fortunately, while this third act certainly had less energy, it was no less entertaining than the rest of the performance. At long last, the audience could watch as the orchestra passionately supplied music for the choir. Throughout the first and second acts, the Gracias Choir’s music came from the traditional place: the orchestra pit. For the third act, the orchestra was given the place of honor and was seated on the stage; the audience could then see that the musicians were as dedicated to the show as their more visible counterparts.

The lighting, orchestra and choir blended superbly to create a fantastic show

Throughout the Christmas Cantata, the lighting, orchestra and choir blended superbly to create a fantastic show worth seeing no matter what time of year it might be. While the spectacle here at the Ferst Center was splendid, the Gracias Choir does not plan to stay at Tech. After their performance on Tuesday, they traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for Wednesday, Miami on Thursday, and Orlando on Friday.

In a fantastic display of holiday spirit, the Gracias Choir plans to perform the Christmas Cantata nearly every day for weeks on end in order to spread the joy of Christmas to as many people as possible.

When a group pushes themselves as hard as this one does, it usually results in a bad performance due to the performers striving for quantity over quality; the Gracias Choir seems to be immune to this norm, much to the good fortune of those who witnessed their Ferst performance. Perhaps it is because they truly believe that their Christmas Cantata is helping people to enjoy Christmas, and with a firmly held belief, it is apparently possible to choose quality as well as quantity. Whatever the reason, the Gracias Choir has managed to do the nearly impossible, creating a great show that is to be performed innumerable times in the few short months leading up to Christmas.