Submitted by Adrian Freeman, interactive marketing and communications specialist, Lifeworks
What is the power of 20 red and green holiday clad singers belting out their favorite Christmas carols? How would someone go about grading the energy of the 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show? Can such a thing even be measured? We may not have an accurate measurement like horse power or Fahrenheit for such things. We simply do not have a system to measure holiday cheer with any certainty. That said, there was magic in the room at St. Luke Presbyterian church on a hazy, warm December morning in the deep and quaint backstreets of Wayzeta. Holiday cheer was present in abundance, along with a good bit of joy, glee, exuberance, and maybe even a tad of jocundity. It was electric. If it does indeed need to be measured, let’s just say it scores 101 whiskers on the Santa Beard Scale of Cheer. That means it was good.
The Lifeworks Holiday Choir from left to right: Johanna Schmidt, Jenna Horgan, Tavarrus Robinson, Judy Carnahan, Shelli Wickstrom, Jennifer Roache, Johnathan Straub, Alex Kim, Anna Phillips, Lori Schaller, Nicole Laufers, Heather Schullo, Racheal Crandall, Caleb Rasmussen, Angela Balfanz, Aaron Godzala, Sarah Debbins, Charles Duffney, Dustin Kiefer, Lindie Seleen, Andrea Hoopman
The 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show was a delight to those who attended and those who participated alike. The show included holiday favorite songs like “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World”, and “Dreidel”, as well as dancing, comedy, a piano solo, artwork, and more. The large center of worship was filled with family, friends, peers, and nearly the entire Lifeworks finance team, who reveled in the performance with cheers and applause. Heather Schullo, choir singer, said this of the show,
“It brought everyone together, and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves. We worked really hard and came a long way, it was so much fun!”
Heather Schullo looking calm and confident before the performance
This was the general attitude of all the performers concerning the show. For many it was their way of saying thank you to the community by giving the gift of holiday cheer to others. Some had a special reason for singing in the show. Lindie Seleen said
“I hope I sang well. My dad was in the audience, and I was singing for him the whole time.”
The 2011 Holiday Choir and Variety Show was the brain child of Jenna Horgan, music therapist at lifeworks, Service Facilitator Johanna Schmidt, and individuals served at lifeworks Brooklyn Park. This group of talented people with various abilities and expertise devised the Holiday Choir and Variety Show as a way to embrace performance while giving back to the community. Originally, Jenna had the idea of a choir as a way to enhance services at Lifeworks Brooklyn Park. Singing has always been her thing, and as a musical therapist she understood that a choir could go a long way to further the goals of many people served at Lifeworks. She approached Lifeworks Brooklyn Park as a potential home base to populate her choir, and there she was directed to Johanna. Johanna, a long time fan of Lifeworks Brooklyn Park performance in all its forms, had been organizing a holiday variety show for the last few years. This turned out to be a perfect match. Jenna was looking for participants for her choir, Johanna had been organizing performers at Lifeworks Brooklyn Park, and those served at Brooklyn Park were chewing at the bit for an opportunity like the Holiday Choir to perform.
Johanna and Jenna, the Holiday Choir and Variety Show organizers celebrating after a job well done.
Before the show, the choir and performers were both professional and pumped up. Everyone was decked out in either red or green attire to show that the holiday spirit was alive. Caleb, an experienced singer, was a model performer sporting an elegant button top colored red Polo sweater and green tie. Everyone was in their season’s finest, a site to behold. The mood was jovial, smiles being the preferred expression. Surprisingly, everyone was calm with only a smattering of tense, anxious energy. This was because Johanna and Jenna had run a tight practicing ship in preparation. This was no “get up and sing” improv concert, this was hard work, training, and preparation. The laid back attitude of the participants was evidence to this point.
The crowd enjoying the Lifeworks Holiday Choir
Kath Pengelly, Lifeworks volunteer/advocate coordinator handed out programs and showed guests to their seats. With grace and poise she greeted arrivals and marveled at the turnout. Many Lifeworks locations came out to see the concert. Even Lifeworks Hasting showed up, braving the hour long winter drive to Wayzeta. Many parents and family members were happy to attend and catch up with acquaintances before the show. Judy Lysne, Lifeworks president and CEO was excited to see so many familiar faces and visit with old friends.
Jingle Bells performed by the Lifeworks Holiday Choir
The show began in a hush as Jenna quietly took the conducting stand and gestured for her choir to rise. The choir stood, lifting their matching red music folders and sang. As voices filled the room with song, the audience’s attention was absolute. Smiles and looks of adoration decorated the face of the watchers and camera flashes twinkled like tiny stars on a Christmas night. Each song progressed with skill and passion. Many songs included solos by select singers. After one such shared solo by Caleb and Aaron Godzala, they shook hands to congratulate each other for a job well done. It was a touching moment. The variety aspect of the show was a refreshing change of pace, adding a sense of adventure to the morning. Dustin tickled the audience’s humor with his holiday jokes, a moving piano solo was performed by Alex Kim, and a special dance and drum performance was particularly tasteful. Even posters for the show were made specially by Charles Duffney.
Soloists Caleb Rasmussen and Aaron Godzala knock it out of the park
The show ended with a standing ovation that obviously touched the performer’s hearts. As the clapping died away, friends and family nearly barreled over each other in an attempt to reach the choir and congratulate them for a job well done. The scene was suddenly filled with hugs, high-fives, and handshakes. Angela VanKeulen met with her friend Judy Carnahan and said “You did such a good job, I had no idea you had such a good voice, but once you got the microphone I could hear it. It was well done.” Caleb reflected about his experience, and had this to say about the choir,
“Singing is important because it helps other feel good, and helps me do well in life.”
Now, the choir is continuing their journey. They are in the process of learning new songs for their next show, soon to be determined. Keep an eye here on this blog and also on the Lifeworks Facebook page to get information about upcoming shows for the Lifeworks Choir.
Watch a video of the choir performing Dreidal.
See more pictures of the 2011 Lifeworks Holiday Choir and Variety Show on our Flickr page here.