The performances at "Collage: A Holiday Spectacular" featured musical holiday favorites reminiscent of traditional Christmas caroling, except with a lot more carolers. With seamless interchanges between musical performances, the audience may not have even noticed the hundreds of hands that went into making the concert a success– more than 500 sets of hands, in fact.
This annual holiday performance featured a range of vocalists and musicians from the Lexington community, including those from the UK School of Music and the Lexington Singers Children’s Choir. UK Director of Choirs, Dr. Jefferson Johnson, and Lori Hetzel, associate director of UK Choral Activities, led the singers and musicians through a concert filled with traditional seasonal tunes and holiday music from around the globe.
Collage featured student vocalist groups UK Men’s Chorus, UK Women’s Choir, UK Choristers, UK Chorale and a cappella groups acoUstiKats, Paws and Listen and Blue Note. The instrumentalist groups showcased the 10-piece ensemble band, Sax Cats, as well as brass clarinet and trumpet groups, the GrassCats, Blue Steel and the Alluring Handbell Ensemble. Local choirs from East Jessamine High School, Franklin County High School and Tates Creek High School also performed. It’s the sheer number of performers which made the experience so enthralling, for both the audience and the musicians.
“The experience of singing alongside 250 plus other choral students is so empowering and fulfilling. All of the performers are committed to expressing the importance of the arts in life and in our community, which I think connects with the audiences in an emotional way,” said Kason Speir, a sophomore vocal music education major and member of UK Men’s Chorus, acoUstiKats and Chorale.
Erin Reed, a senior arts administration major, member of Choristers and Blue Note, and the social media manager for all UK Choirs, said the performance has "a lot of moving pieces."
“We have to listen to each other, be patient with one another, and trust every other person on that stage," she said. "And, let me tell you– when it all comes together it is one of the most beautiful moments to have as a performer."
The first Collage was performed in 1998, making this year’s performance the 21st annual Collage. Collage maintains a sense of tradition by singing “Joy to the World”, “Hallelujah Chorus” and “O Holy Night” each year. But don’t expect to hear these songs sung exactly the way they were performed the year before, as new soloists are brought in to refresh the experience.
“I've been a part of Collage since freshman year, and it is just magical every time. The joy of it never dulls,” Reed said. “Several songs provide those moments– the moments of hope, joy, and light in the midst of this world– and they are so powerful.”
Three performances were made over the course of Dec. 1 and 2, highlighting holiday music from around the world, such as Feliz Navidad or Oseh Shalom, which helps to make the performance culturally and traditionally inclusive. The 29-piece performance culminated with “Betelehmu”, which brought the audience to its feet.
“The lighting and staging combined with the 'choralography', like 'choreography', makes it [Betelehmu] so much fun for everyone, which is what I think makes it such a staple,” said Speir.
Collage truly brings together hundreds of performers for one collective holiday experience. The combination of instrumental performers and vocalists creates a well-rounded musical experience.
“It truly is a ‘Collage’. Each individual ensemble is a beautiful piece of a wonderful, magical whole. And it wouldn't look the same if any one group were missing,” said Reed.