December 4, 2023

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‘A Virtual Winter Concert’ proves to be a charming replacement for traditional live performance

The tradition of gathering at schools to hear student musicians play their hearts out in an aural feast of holiday favorites was a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. But the Virtual Winter Concert produced by Homewood-Flossmoor High School musicians more than made up for the loss.

The video released recently provided ample opportunity to see and hear their skills — and their hearts — on display.

In some ways, it was better than a live concert.

Sarah Whitlock, director of bands at H-F High School, introduced the program.

“We have all been forced to adapt to a difficult situation,” she said. “As student musicians, it’s an extreme departure from what we are normally used to.”

She noted the students performed individually and the tracks were stitched together “to bring you an ensemble performance.”

The music included traditional and contemporary holiday melodies: “Joy to the World,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Mambo on the Housetop,” “Jingle Bells,” “O Christmas Tree,” “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Jericho,” “Dots and Dashes” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

The music is everything we hope for in a holiday concert, but the images sweeten the experience. There are a few brief video clips, but mostly the music backs a series of stills that offer a peek into the lives of the student musicians and their families.

In addition to shots of students playing their instruments at home (in the shower, under the Christmas tree, on the roof, in a tree outside), there are added special effects and fun:

  • Cameo images including Louis Armstrong, Barack Obama, Billie Eilish, the Grinch, Michael Jackson and more.
  • Siblings, including youngsters taking a turn on the trumpet, and kids eating ice cream.
  • Pets, including a cat thinking about taking up the clarinet and dogs taking a break on the trumpet. There’s a bunny.
  • There’s a scene of tubas playing poker.
  • There’s art work, photos of food, Christmas decorations and families laughing and smiling.

The whole effect is a performance in quiet defiance of the awkward situation these musicians faced. If the pandemic holiday has you stressed, watch this video and share their smiles.

“We hope our December project brings you joy and happiness,” Whitlock said before the music started.

It did.

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