Readiness level ‘green’

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- Jacob Townsend rehearses with the Dutchtown High School band Friday for the band's upcoming Christmas concert.
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- Jacob Townsend rehearses with the Dutchtown High School band Friday for the band's upcoming Christmas concert.

Choirs, bands prepare for holiday concerts

The choir room full of students at St. Amant High School erupted in cheers and applause after B.J. Bertucci replaced an orange dot with a green one next to “Ave Verum Corpus” on the dry erase board.

The orange dot meant the choir was nearly ready to perform the song at its Christmas concert, which is scheduled for 7 p.m., Dec. 17 at St. John the Evangelist Church, 152088 La. 73 in Prairieville. The green dot, however, signified the choir was ready to perform the song in a concert.

“They’ll be fine,” Bertucci said last week. “Usually, when crunch time comes they start working a little bit harder.”

“Ave Verum Corpus” was the first green dot the advanced choir featuring 43 students earned Nov. 29. By the end of the class period, two other dots had been changed to green, both earning cheers and applause.

The school’s advanced and beginner choirs will sing 15 songs at the Christmas concert — six each by the two choirs, as well as three songs performed together.

“We’re getting there,” said Mason Neff, a junior bass taking his second semester of choir.

Neff said he was coaxed into taking choir by his best friend, Mason Holmes. He said Holmes talked him into trying out the class, and he “fell in love with the class.”

“Because of him I’ll do choir the rest of high school,” Neff said.

Sarah Labat, a junior soprano who has taken choir every semester during high school, said she grew up in a musical environment that pulled her toward the choir. She recalled singing at her home while her father played the piano.

“I always really liked music,” Labat said. “It’s a very non-judgmental environment. Everyone is really supportive of each other.”

The St. Amant choir won’t be the only one performing this holiday season. Dutchtown High’s choir also will sing at St. John the Evangelist Church. That concert will be held at 7 p.m. Monday. East Ascension High’s choir will perform at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mark Church, 42021 La. 621, Gonzales.

Area bands also will perform concerts during the Christmas season. Dutchtown’s band will perform at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the school’s auditorium. St. Amant’s band concert will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Household of Faith Church, 10469 Airline Highway, Gonzales. East Ascension’s band also will perform at Household of Faith, at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Ascension Catholic’s band will perform its Christmas concert at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the school.

Donaldsonville High band officials said they are in the process of scheduling a concert, which will likely be held between Dec. 17 and 21. Ascension Christian School, meanwhile, will hold a Christmas play at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 in the school’s gym.

Julian Stanley, who plays the bass clarinet in the Dutchtown band, said the band had been preparing for its Christmas concert, the first of the concert season, for several months.

“It’s our first major concert of the year,” the 16-year-old sophomore said.

“It really allows you to play in a different style than the marching season,” said Amber Reed, a 16-year-old junior who plays French horn. “You really get to connect to each other.”

Reed said she enjoys preparing the “four or five songs” the band will play at its concert, saying they are “different than other Christmas music” and “very enjoyable to play.” Her favorite song, she said, is “The Eighth Candle.”

She is playing in the band for the fourth year and said it has helped her find an identity.

“It’s helped me come out of my box,” Reed said. “I remember when I first started, I didn’t think I’d be able to find my place in high school. But I really love music.”

The band also has helped Stanley find his place at Dutchtown. The transfer from San Diego has been playing instruments since he was in fifth grade, and being in Dutchtown’s band helped him find a place to belong when he moved to Louisiana from California.

“It’s work, but it’s relaxing,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”