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IWU to host Christmas Extravaganza

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BOLSTERING CHRISTMAS CHEER: Indiana Wesleyan University’s Chair of the Division of Music Michael Flanaginconducts a rehearsal session on Wednesday for the Dec. 8 Christmas Extravaganza.
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SINGING WITH SPIRIT: Students in Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale sing “Glory to God” during their Christmas Extravaganza rehearsal Wednesday afternoon.
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RENEWING JOY: Students in Indiana Wesleyan University Orchestra run through their rehearsal on Wednesday of the Christmas Extravaganza event, coming Dec. 8 to the Phillipe Performing Arts Center.

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

Indiana Wesleyan University’s Division of Music will host a Christmas Extravaganza in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center on the Marion campus on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

The entire Division of Music will be represented throughout the hour and a half event, shared IWU’s Chair of the Division of Music Michael Flanagin. Tickets are available for sale through the university’s box office at $10 for adults, with children ages 12 and under free.

Performers will include University Chorale, University Singers, Women’s Chorus, Heart of Indiana Youth Chorale, IWU Orchestra, IWU Wind Ensemble and Early Music Ensemble, with prelude music by Jazz Combo and Percussion Ensemble.

Pieces will include standard holiday music such as Leroy Anderson’s “Christmas Festival” and “Sleigh Ride,” Mannheim Steamroller’s “Silent Night” and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” as well as pieces from the 1600s. Medleys of Christmas carols are also included. Flanagin called the selections a mix of secular and sacred. Several pieces will be performed by individual groups, but there will also be collective performances as well. Some pieces, such as “Christmas Festival,” will involve the audience.

“Anybody [is] going to hear something you like, that’s for sure,” Flanagin said. “[There will be] so much variation.”

Davy Chinn, chorale director, hopes community attendees will walk away feeling excitement for the Christmas season. He believes this event is important both for the Division of Music to work together and have students collaborate in a unique way and to share the Christian story of Christmas through music.

This event gives the Division of Music students and performers the chance to share that gospel story and showcase their talents and abilities in a way that points to “the giver of gifts,” Chinn said.

“We obviously want people to leave feeling very in the Christmas spirit,” he said. “This is the only time that we all get together and do a big hoopla.”

Flanagin explained the Christmas Extravaganza is an event IWU hosts about every two or three years. The various musical groups have all had previous concerts they’ve pulled material from for this event, so most of them have been preparing these pieces since early or mid-November, some even earlier.

The program is very collaborative, Flanagin said, with the directors of the student groups all working together from the beginning of the semester to maintain a cohesive feel for the Christmas event.

This performance is an important educational experience for the students involved, Flanagin explained. The focus of much of the work in the Division of Music is training students to be professional musicians and music teachers, and Christmas performances are a part of that.

“As a musician … you’re always asked to do holiday stuff, whether you’re involved in a church or a school,” Flanagin said. “This gives [students] some background on how to do some of these things.”

Chinn voiced a hope that attendees leave the event with renewed hope and joy. He pointed out that holidays can be a difficult time for many people, especially those with lost loved ones or who are enduring challenging life circumstances. He wants this event to help people feel the true joy of the Christmas season and the reason they celebrate. Flanagin agrees.

“The most important thing is for community to come together and enjoy the holiday season and enjoy what it truly means,” Flanagin said. “Our focus is always going to be on the birth of Jesus Christ.”