The Holly & The Ivy, 2018

Attending the Indiana Landmarks holiday concert has become a tradition for me. Enjoying wonderfully talented musicians and singers in a beautiful setting—what’s not to like?

Doors were scheduled to open at 7pm. Come early to get your preferred seat, they advertised!

They lied. Well, sort of.

I showed up at 6:45 and the auditorium was already half full. Huh. Doors must have opened at 6:30 or even 6:15, I thought. Mental note to come even earlier next year. (Usually I arrive early enough to park in their lot and walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the historic buildings.)

As usual, the concert did not disappoint. The program listed many of the same people. Some new performers. Other performers from past years were missing. (The trombone player who hams it up was noticeably absent though his soprano singing wife performed.)

Mark Herman who normally plays the organ through the silent Halloween films joined the roster this year. Two other singers who are choral directors in the Indiana school system filled in for Rick Vale, the usual co-host who was missing due to a cold. (Kayla Shoemaker and Jennie Swick were great additions with their beautiful voices!)

Randall Frieling and Rick Vale usually co-host with friendly comedic banter between them. With Rick absent, Randall was forced to ham it up on his own, which he did a very good job of.

The Circle City Ringers were back with many familiar faces in its ranks. Their bells are a delight to hear—even they mixed it up with a song that involved choreographed tapping of sticks and stomping (…which earned playful ribbing from Randall).

Phoenix Park-Kim and Randall performed a couple duets on the piano. They are always amazing. Listening to Phoenix play solo is a true joy too.

The 1892 organ was put to good use with Mark’s and Randall’s playful competition of church vs. theatre organ playing. (I haven’t really considered the difference before. Organ music is organ music, right? Well, no.) Mark even coaxed the organ into imitating a train for an adaption of Santa Claus is Coming to Town (on a train rather than a sleigh.)

One thing I realized as a listened to the performers and watched them sing and play was how much they enjoyed what they were doing. Most of them had smiles coming from deep inside. They truly enjoyed what they were doing. And I truly enjoy performances where performers are carried away by their own enjoyment of performing.

The attendees of these annual Indiana Landmarks holiday concerts are truly blessed. The musicians and singers who perform actually perform around the country and the world. Herman plays globally and Frieling has played in such venues as Carnegie Hall. (I noticed the Frieling is now listed as associated with a Florida church rather than his previous Anderson church.) Thankfully they all find their way back to Indy.

Judging by the crowd, I am not the only one who appreciates their talents. I would encourage you to join us next year, but I don’t want the concert to become too popular. Best to keep it a secret than to spread the news of world-renown performers appearing in our Indiana neck of the woods for a holiday concert.

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