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Finishing a tough year on a bright note

‘A Classic Christmas’ concert will be available on Facebook

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At this most wonderful time of the year, All Strings Attached Orchestra Studio musicians decided they couldn’t let the coronavirus pandemic idle them.

After all, ASA has presented Christmas concerts ever since the program started 20 years ago.

Well, Christmas music wishes will be coming true this year, too.

Brainstorming by All Strings’ advisory group produced plans for a virtual recording featuring small ensembles performing on the Carroll Recreation Center theater stage. The show, titled “A Classic Christmas … With Fireside Chats,” will debut at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, on All Strings’ Facebook page. The concert was recorded Sunday afternoon, Dec. 13, on the Carroll Recreation Center stage.

The performance plan was drawn up to keep musicians safe — string players and vocalists all wore masks — while still being able to present a high-quality concert. “Concert-goers” will be able to watch from the cozy comfort of their homes.

Rebecca Windschitl, who’s been All Strings instructor and director since the day the studio opened, said, “Selecting ‘A Classic Christmas’ theme meant that we could keep the small ensembles and utilize Old English and French Renaissance repertoire, with multiple featuring of soloists.”

Windschitl explored the Internet for the right pieces for various ensembles.

“To the delight of the members, the program is one of classiness and refinement,” she commented. “The varied chamber ensembles — smaller groups of musicians — will provide as much Christmas entertainment as that of the big symphonic groups.”

“A Classic Christmas” showcases eight ensembles: MiNioNS and Mentors, combined Intermediate and Junior Chamber, Varsity Chamber, Woodwind Choir, Brass Choir, ASA Big Band and ending with the Maestro Chamber, spotlighting an oboist, a trumpet, strings and a 12-member choir who will perform “Vivaldi Gloria” followed by the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Prerecorded fireside chats will be interspersed throughout the approximately one-hour concert.

Delivering the fireside chats are 8-year-old Henry Brincks, a violinist and All Strings’ youngest member; twin seniors Bridget and Maris Cameron; Paul Ching, All Strings alum and concertmaster of the All Strings and Drake University Symphonies; All Strings Director Windschitl; Marilyn Setzler, All Strings patron; Dr. Marty and Dee Halbur, patrons; and Tom and Joan Gronstal, patrons; Tom is a board member as well.

Windschitl said her chat focuses on All-Strings’ landmark anniversary, the program’s mentoring program and a few other sentiments. The students spoke about how they joined All Strings and what the program has done for them with regard to musicianship, furthering their education and more. The patrons spoke about the joy the organization brings to the community and why supporting this nonprofit means a great deal to them.

Cello player Pacey Bogue, a Carroll Middle School eighth-grader, says the performers were eager to share Christmas joy.

“A virtual concert gives everyone, including the participants, a sense of normal,” he said. “People can listen and get into the spirit of the holidays, since our older generation of patrons will feel safer watching from home.

“Let’s face it, this year has been crazy, weird and unpredictable, and this is the safe way to showcase our talents onstage, while our audience will experience the seasonal joy from their own homes.

“I think a virtual concert will be very successful if the ASA members give 100 percent energy and perform as if we had an audience. We can and will bring the joy of music to anyone who chooses to experience the virtual concert from their own safe environment. Our patrons can sit by their fireplace, or cozy up on the couch, drink hot chocolate and enjoy listening to ASA bring ‘A Classic Christmas’ to life.”

He added, “It’s a win/win for both performers and our families/patrons. We wish you a very safe, healthy 2021, as ASA moves forward, continuing to celebrate its 20th-anniversary season.”

Pacey, son of Chris and Jana Bogue, performs in All Strings with his brothers Weston, Carroll Middle School sixth-grader who plays viola, and Miles, Carroll High School sophomore who plays string bass.

On Sept. 27, All Strings began its concert season with “Broadway continued … On the Green,” performing on the infield at Merchants Park baseball stadium.

More than 250 people attended the show and responded with enthusiastic cheers for the groups.

“Bringing a Christmas concert to our audience during the everlasting pandemic was going to require a lot more thought,” Windschitl noted.

After the Dec. 19 debut, the concert will remain available on the Facebook page or with a link from the website to be viewed anytime. To offset lost ticket-sales revenue, freewill donations will are welcome via the “Donate” tab on the All Strings website or by mailing a check to All Strings Attached, P.O. Box 253, Carroll, IA 51401.

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