Holiday Festival Chorus at the St. Louis Symphony: How my views on the holidays have changed


Submitted by Elyse Luecke

A group of GCAA students pose for a picture in the Whittaker room of Powell Hall. During intermission, singers talked and got to know others from schools across the St. Louis/Illinois area.

Elyse Luecke, Managing Editor

The holidays can be hectic with finals, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and other festivities. However,

Elyse Luecke
A view of the Powell Hall sign on North Grand. The performances took place December 15th-17th.

one thing that brought me joy in the midst of staying up late to study for finals was singing with the Holiday Festival Chorus at the St. Louis Symphony. I have participated in this for the past three years, and it has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Nineteen different high schools from across the St. Louis/Illinois area were involved in the performances this year. We attend three rehearsals, one being in Third Baptist Church, then we incorporate the orchestra for the next two in Powell Hall. At first, I was intimidated by all the music professionals I was surrounded by. I did not know most of the people there, except a few from school. When I attended the first rehearsal sophomore year, I was amazed at how quickly people made an effort to get to know one another. This was a point when I realized I needed to step out of my comfort zone and talk new people. Being a shy person, this was a very difficult task. However, what made it so easy was the fact that we all shared a similar interest; not only singing but making others smile during the holiday season.

Three-hour rehearsals and two hours performances were exhausting, but seeing the smiles from the audience was motivation to do our best. As we sang classic Christmas songs, the audience’s reactions were something I will always remember. People rely on music, in this case, to bring about joy and comfort. The holidays can be a very lonesome, and stressful time due to financial hardships or family issues.

Knowing that the power of an orchestra and choir can create such an overwhelming response makes me proud. Kevin McBeth, our director, always encourages us to bring emotion into the song so the audience can connect with our lyrics. The meaning of a song and the way it is expressed is significant to the audience, even more than it is to us as singers.

Due to family issues I have personally experienced, this was a way for me to see what the holidays are all about. Getting to know people gave me a sense of comfort as well, knowing that I am not alone in the obstacles I have faced. Singing has been an important aspect of my life for the past eight years, yet this experience puts it all into perspective. I have a newfound appreciation for performance. It is not only a musical experience but an emotional one.