Spirit of the season shared through music, performance art

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With donations from the Jazz for Pups event are, from left, Davis Forsyth, his mother and NHFP Secretary Leah Forsyth and NHFP volunteer Daphne Hammett.

You didn’t have to travel far to find the music and other forms of performance art in town last week. There were several musical events in Natchitoches over the past couple of days, beginning with Monday’s (Dec. 3) Pups for Jazz concert at Magale Recital Hall. The NSU Jazz Combos played as people donated to local animal shelter, the Natchitoches Hope for Paws. The event raised over $500 in donations as well as some food, toys and blankets for the shelter dogs, according to NHFP Secretary Leah Forsyth.

Juliana Handy sang ‘O Holy Night’ in her operatic style.

Tuesday’s entertainment could be found at the 10th Annual Multicultural Christmas Concert at LSMSA’s Treen Auditorium and the Lessons and Carols Candlelight Service at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

The Multicultural Christmas Concert was a benefit concert for the local nonprofit organization Cane River Children’s Services.

Brynlee Daigle performed an interesting twist to the classic song “12 Days of Christmas.

The concert featured an array of both sacred and secular Christmas performances. Performers included the Anointed to Praise Dance Team and Singer, choreographed and directed by Shereka Johnson; singer Justin Cruse who sang “Away in a Manger” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”; Brynlee Daigle of the LSMSA Chorale who performed “The 12 Days after Christmas,” and LSMSA Chorale director Lisa Benner who performed “The Infant Jesus”; the LSMSA Dance Ensemble, choreographed by Crystal Lewis; carols on the piano by Sandy Neal of Fort St. Jean Baptiste; NSU students, including Nikita Barnes who sang “Blue Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” Reagan Guillory, who read the Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair, and Juliana Handy who performed “O Holy Night”; NSU librarians and archivists Patricia Brown, Deborah Huntington, Anna MacDonald, Mary Linn Wernet, and Sharon Wolff, who performed “The Librarian’s Night Before Christmas”; and Eric Klemme, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Natchitoches, who performed “Christmas Time Blues” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” The evening’s festivities concluded with a group singing of “Silent Night,” led by Klemme on guitar.

“This year’s concert was magnificent,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, associate professor of English and Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center. “The joy of the performers perfectly captured the spirit of the season in all of its cheer and wonder. That these artists volunteer to perform, freely donating their time and talents for the benefit of others, is what the season is all about! And we are so honored to be able to support such a worthy cause as Cane River Children’s Services. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!” To make a donation to Cane River Children’s Services, contact CEO Jennifer Karle at (318) 352-9349, or mail a check to P.O. Box 2453, Natchitoches, LA 71457.

Then, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception housed the heavenly voices of the NSU Chamber Choir, conducted by Dr. Nicholaus B. Cummins and accompanied by Dr. Greg Handel on the organ. It was an evening of song and silent reflection as lessons were given by Dr. Sharon Joy, Dr. Christine Allen, Dr. Steve Horton and Terrie Sanders in between the choir’s carols. The choir will also be attending the international choral competition, Ave Verum Competition, in Austria May 31-June 2, 2019. To donate fund for their upcoming journey and help cover travel costs, visit http://bit.ly/nsuchoirs.

Conductor Katrice LaCour explained to the crowd how much the NSU E-Lab Orchestra has learned since beginning.

Thursday evening found the NSU Elementary/Middle Lab School Orchestra and the Natchitoches Central High School Orchestra on the Natchitoches riverbank stage. The crowd and families of orchestra members watched as the young performers played several songs in tune with the holiday season.