It’s the holiday season, which means it is time for another Aspengrove School Winter Concert!
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, Aspengrove School’s 2021 Winter Concert once again took place online, but that didn’t hinder our staff and students’ festive spirits. Along with our virtual concert, we thought it would be worthwhile to provide our viewers with a few fun facts about the origin of the holiday concert from Cathryn Gunn, Aspengrove School’s Primary Years Program Music Director, and the School’s Choral Director.
The Winter Concert at Aspengrove School has been a long-standing tradition at the school. One thing that makes Aspengrove School so unique and special is the participation of every class in school events, even the smallest of students, and the Winter Concert is no exception! The Winter Concert is typically divided into two parts, the first section involving the PYP and grade 6 students and the second section a mass choir and band performances.
The first section contains a mini-musical in which every class participates. The performance starts out with the Junior Kindergarten students performing their piece, which usually involves wearing Christmas jammies and singing about reindeer! Next, the kindergartens do their part, and so on for each grade. The participating grades wear costumes appropriate for the musical number they’re performing, and, in between the grades, the Grade 5 students act out the play, performing all the lines.
In the past, the second section of the show included a mass choir consisting of all students in Grades 3-7, and performances by the band classes. From 2015 to 2019, Aspengrove School had the honour to host our Winter Concert at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo. For several years, bands were able to entertain the audience in the foyer at intermission as well as experience the joys of performing on a professional stage and the efforts of managing and maintaining the stage as a crew. The mass choir did larger performances, such as the junior version of Vivaldi’s Gloria and a junior version of Handel’s Messiah. The jazz band also had the opportunity to provide accompaniment for the entire mini-musical live! Instead of ticket sales, admission was driven by food bank contributions.
The event became a testament to the commitment of the Aspengrove School community, from school, staff, parents, students, even alumni, everyone was involved. Large amounts of coordination, supervision, planning, moving equipment, meetings, money, and patience were required. Aspengrove School’s Winter Concert became and continues to be a unique, one-of-a-kind event that all members of the community look forward to year after year.
Now that the show is no longer performed live, the scope has shrunk somewhat. The bands learn less music and don’t accompany the mini-musical. There is no more mass choir because we can’t combine cohorts. Although the event has changed slightly, our community is still excited to welcome the event back every year.
Not only is the concert crucial to continuing to build our sense of community at Aspengrove School, but the Winter Concert also satisfies the British Columbia Ministry requirements and connects to classroom Units of Inquiry, especially in the case of the PYP. Each mini-musical the PYP performs is specifically altered for this purpose, except in the case of those where the songs have been written by music teachers on staff. In the days when Aspengrove School was performing at the Port Theatre, the MYP students met many of their stagecraft and drama requirements by working on the show and managing the stage.
An audience favourite about the event is that the show brings us all together for the holiday season. We are thrilled to have had all viewers attend this year’s virtual concert and thank you for your continued support of our programs. Hopefully, in the future, some of these past Aspengrove traditions will return! Until then, we wish you a wonderful holiday season spent with friends and loved ones!