Music director Sergio Beraun rang all the Christmas bells perfectly for the first concert of his Payson High School (PHS) career. The lush music from the band and the precise tones of the choral groups offered a feast for the ears.
For those lucky enough to get to the concert early, the Voci Choir sang traditional Christmas carols in the foyer of the PHS auditorium. This holiday season, the Voci group has sung these carols throughout the Rim Country.
The acoustics resonated and added tones to the music that gave listeners goosebumps.
Beraun turned over the direction of the choir to a student to continue setting up for the concert.
“Aren’t you going to ...?” she asked as he walked away.
“Why? You’re doing great and I do that every day anyway,” he said as he left the students to entertain the crowd.
He continued that trend when he started the band in its first song, a march called “Bandology” by Eric Osterling.
“I’m going to start them and then walk off the stage and they are going to keep tempo by themselves,” said Beraun.
Sure enough, he started the bright and cheerful march, put down his baton and just walked off the stage.
The band kept time brilliantly and finished the song perfectly together.
The astonishing thing about leaving the band on its own meant that Beraun trusted his students to rise to the occasion. A lesson in learning to take responsibility and the value in practicing and working together — all things required to make a great band.
The band played one other non-holiday song, “On a Hymnsong” of Philip Bliss and then moved on to Christmas music.
“Sleigh Ride” was perfectly done down to the percussion snapping like a whip on horses.
The band completed its set with “Winter Holiday.”
As a treat, senior Brooke Kubby did a complicated solo on French horn accompanied by Gail Gorry. Kubby said band members came up to her after the performance and told her they had no idea she was doing such a complicated piece.
The audience was also treated to a solo performance by two seniors in the guitar class, Cameron Charlson and Kylie Chapin performed “Andante” by Carulli.
This year Beraun has taken over the complete music program at the high school, including the guitar program.
His beginning guitar class has more than two dozen students. They played “Leyenda” by Isaac Albeniz, “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” an arrangement by Derek Hasted.
The Mixed Choir further showcased beginning musician talents; Beraun said was full of first-time singers.
He had the group sing easily recognizable songs, “Do-Re-Mi,” (arranged by Clay Warnick) and “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” (arrangement Jeff Funk) that brought giggles from everyone.
But Beraun said he was happiest with their rendition of “Kyrie Elesion” by Ruth Alaine Schram.
“This is many of these students’ first time singing and they are doing a song all in Latin. No English,” said Beraun.
When the Voci Choir returned to the stage, Beraun had picked two classical pieces for the group to sing including “Beati Quorum Via” by Charles Stanford and “Gloria!” by Linda Spevack.
But the most wonderful surprise awaited the audience when Beraun had the Voci Choir sing an arrangement he had done based on the very popular a cappella group Pentatonix, “Carol of the Bells.”
The audience almost stood on the seats whistling and hooting its approval.
All in all a feast of sound and a glorious start to the holiday season.
(Listen for some of the sound-tracks from all of the concerts on the Roundup Web site.)