What are bells on bobtails? Why are the lords a-leaping? What will it take to have peace on Earth and goodwill toward all people? These questions arise each year at the holiday season. Some take a lighthearted look at the intricacies of holiday caroling, and others address more serious issues that world leaders and everyday citizens have struggled with for years. This year, the Evergreen Children’s Chorale is taking on all of these questions in song at its annual holiday concert “Songs of Hope.”
“What we are centering on is songs that were written for commemorations or special occasions throughout the world,” says Elaine Sohrweid, director of the Evergreen Children’s Chorale.
The program is a mix of lighthearted holiday fare and beautiful songs that were composed to celebrate or memorialize watershed moments in the history of our world. The concert opens with the song “Give Us Hope,” written in 2002 to be performed each year at the service commemorating the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The song, written by New York-based composer Jim Papoulis, sends the message of “a gift of promise from children to the future.”
“Give Us Hope” will be followed by “We Are the World,” originally written by Michael Jackson and performed by USA for Africa, a superstar group that performed at a benefit for African famine relief. The song was re-recorded in 2010 to aid survivors after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Other songs on the program include “We Are One,” written to commemorate the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and “The Drinking Gourd,” a song that gave instructions to the slaves for following a path through the northern U.S. to escape into Canada. “Let There Be Peace on Earth” was written for a youth gathering in 1955; more than 180 teenagers of all races, religions and economic circumstances were brought together to experiment with creating understanding and friendship through education, discussion groups, and living and working together.
“We’ve used these songs as a teaching opportunity for our performers,” says Sohrweid. “With each piece, we talked about what the words mean and what was happening in the world that prompted the writing of the song.”
These songs of hope will be complemented by joyous holiday fare such as “Hip Hop Reindeer,” “Christmas Is Coming” and the annual candlelight rendition of “Silent Night.”
“Our December concert is always a celebration of the holidays. It brings together community members and families, and even our Children’s Chorale ‘family.’ Our past members love to get up on stage and join the Chorale members for our annual Alumni Song. It’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season,” says Sohrweid.
And what better way to ring in the holidays than with a program of hope. The Evergreen Children’s Chorale will spend four days addressing some of the time-tested questions through song — proving that although music can’t always answer the important (and not-so-important) questions, it can bring strength and remembrance along the way.
Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.
Evergreen Children’s Chorale presents
“Songs of Hope” annual holiday concert
Dec. 2, 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.
Center/Stage Theatre, 27608 Fireweed Drive in Evergreen
Tickets: $8 all seats on opening night, Dec. 2; $10 for seniors/students; $12 adults; $9 groups of 10-plus; free for small children on laps.