By Ayanna Fhagen-Smith and Julianne Joseph
As the holiday season approaches, the school’s Minnesingers gear up for their annual winter concerts. This year the concerts will feature a wide range of carols, from holiday classics to contemporary pieces.
Performing Arts department chair Jan Wightman has directed the Minnesingers for the past nine years. However, she has been a part of the annual winter concert for 19 years. Ms. Wightman said, “There are many new singers this year, so it’s exciting to work with them and see what new dynamics they bring to the already existing group.”
The show’s theme this year is carols old and new. They have a variety of holiday songs from Christmas carols to Hanukkah songs, even a song in sign language.
Sophomore Dougie Norton is in his first year with the Minnesingers. “When I went to my first holiday concert, I was 7 years old. After I saw that concert, I knew right then that I wanted to be part of Minnesingers,” he said.
With the show fast approaching, the Minnesingers rehearse from 6 to 9 pm every day in the week leading up to the show. Many of the students in Minnesingers call this week before the show “hell week,”. In addition to the rehearsals, most students get practice time during music class. Both rehearsal and class time consist of going over the songs as many times as it takes until they can get them correct. The students also prepare for the show with other smaller events around the Island.
The stress, however, is worth it to senior Ben Nadelstein, who has been a member of the Minnesingers since his sophomore year. “The Minnesingers has been the best experience of my entire life. I’ve made lots of friends, and the people there are like my family,” he said.
During many of the songs, the singers get distracted, but Ms. Wightman always tries to bring them back on task. “Some carols are harder and take more time to learn,” said Ms. Wightman. “Aiming for perfection is always stressful. I have found that it helps to attempt to leave the stress at the door, so everyone can focus on singing and having a good time doing so.”
The Minnesingers’ Winter Concerts will be at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on Dec. 9 at 8 pm, and Dec. 10 at 4 pm; $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and children under 12 are free.