The Holly & The Ivy, 2016

I returned to the Indiana Landmark Center again this December to enjoy their annual holiday concert. The entrance was packed with people waiting for the doors to the hall to open. As I waited to enter the beautiful concert venue (an old Methodist sanctuary), I saw a familiar—but out of place—face. A woman I knew from my hometown was also here to enjoy the concert!

Many of the same people from the same church in Anderson returned to perform. The emcee and singer Rick Vale, the organist and pianist Randall Frieling, and trombonist John Huntoon were back. New faces included soprano Diana Huntoon (John’s wife) and pianist Phoenix Park-Kim.

Like last year, the air of the concert was one of festive silliness. Banter between the performers showed their true nature. The audience joined in the fun through active participation in the Twelve Days of Christmas. The trombonist gave some audience members pictures of each of the twelve days to hold up as we sung—and he played—through the song. As the designated audience members held up their pictures, they had to sing and/or act out the picture. Hilarity ensued.

The concert was not just fun and games. Musical talent was on display with serious Christmas songs, singing duets, and piano duets. (Phoenix and Randall played some amazing numbers together on the same grand piano.) The Circle City Ringers, an auditioned bronze-level community handbell ensemble, was back again this year, ringing in several songs.

A few pieces from last year made it into this year’s concert, but for the most part the selections were new and ranged from classical (a piano duet of The Nutcracker) to classic Christmas (an organ and handbell version of O Come, All Ye Faithful) to the whimsical (a singing duet of The Twelve Days After Christmas).

Probably my favorite bits were the piano duets of Phoenix and Randall. They were hams as they simultaneously elicited beautiful music from the same piano—he at the keys on the low end and she at the keys on the high end.

I can’t wait to see them play together again—or to hear any of the other performers. I’m looking forward to enjoying the general silliness that ensues during the concert next year—silliness between the performers and between the performers and the audience.

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