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Holiday tunes fill the region
Christmas concerts bring cheer to all
1019 Music 3
Soprano Emily Jones, center, sings Oct. 19 during choir rehearsal at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus in Oakwood. - photo by David Barnes

With Christmas fast approaching, local areas will be filled with the sound of holiday carols and tunes. Favorite annual concerts will return along with a few new performances. Check out these upcoming shows to get you in the holiday spirit. 

Living Christmas Tree 

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7-8; 4:30 p.m. Dec. 9; 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 10 

Where: First Baptist Church, 751 Green St., Gainesville

How much: Free; must reserve tickets

More info: 770-534-7354

A musical and theatrical production will draw in crowds to fill the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Gainesville Dec. 7-10. 

The Rev. Steve Coldiron, associate minister of music at First Baptist, said their Living Christmas Tree program brings roughly 6,500 to 7,000 people to the church each year. 

“The audience can expect to hear the Christmas story from a unique perspective,” he said about the show. “There’s some familiar carols, some new works (and) some stand-alone orchestral works. (It) kind of goes from the birth of Christ through the resurrection and so forth.” 

But that’s not all. One of the highlights of the program is the 45-foot tall steel Christmas tree decorated with lights where about 90 singers stand throughout the show. 

“We have people who are members of the church and who are members of the choir, and we have people who are not members of the church nor members of the choir,” Coldiron said of the singers.

He also said all of the music will be live.

“No CDs, no electronic music,” he said. “It’s a symphonic orchestra, full with woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion.”

The inspiration behind the extravagant program was simply to bring people to the church.

“The purpose of anything we do at the church is to reach out and tell people about Jesus and what a difference he can make in their lives,” he said. “And this is just one more way to do that.” 

Other holiday concerts

Gifts for the Star Child 

Who: Voices of North Georgia

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-2 

Where: St. Paul United Methodist Church, 404 Washington St., Gainesville

How much: $15 general admission; $12 seniors and students; $5 children under 11

More info:

Wonder Tidings: Christmas 

Who: Lanier Chamber Singers

When: 4-5:30 p.m. Dec. 3

Where: First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, 800 S. Enota Dr. NE, Gainesville

How much: $10 in advance; $15 at the door

More info:

North Georgia Chamber Symphony Holiday Concert

When: 4-5:30 p.m. Dec. 3

Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1397 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: Free

More info: 706-867-9444,

Northwinds Symphonic Band Christmas Concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: First Baptist Church Banquet Hall, 751 Green St., Gainesville

How much: Free

Christmas in Color Production 

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 8, 5 p.m. Dec. 9 and 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 10.

Where: Free Chapel Gainesville, 3001 McEver Road, Gainesville 

How much: Free

More info:

Christmas Festival Concert

When: 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17 

Where: Gainesville First United Methodist Church, 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: Free 

More info:

UNG Choirs Holiday Festival

When: 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9

Where: Grace Episcopal Church, 422 Brenau Ave., Gainesville

How much: Free

More info:

The University of North Georgia is preparing for its first Choirs Holiday Festival, which will feature various choirs and instrumental ensembles from the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses.  

Benjamin Schoening, department chair of music at UNG, said the concert will be “a way to kind of kick off the holiday season.”

“All of our choirs and some of the instrumental ensembles will join together to present a large program,” he said. 

Each group will present two or three individual numbers and come together for a few mass numbers as well.

“We’ll even do a few numbers with audience participation,” he said. “What they can expect to hear is a celebration of music from the holiday season given by some of the best choral ensembles that the area has to offer, the ensembles of the UNG choral division.”

The event was inspired by the university’s effort to integrate all the portions of its music department. 

“Doing a performance like this where the choirs from both campuses and some ensembles from both campuses have an opportunity to get together and present a unified program from the music department is just a very good opportunity for us to get all the students working together and the department working together as one entity instead of feeling like we’re divided because of the multiple campuses,” Schoening said. 

Preparation for the concert began in January, and it will be held at both 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville. 

“(It’s) one of the best acoustical spaces in the Gainesville area and it can only serve to make the performances of all the choirs that much better,” he said.

Christmas Songs and Stories with John Berry 

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19

Where: Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium, 500 Washington St., Gainesville 

How much: $25-45

More info:

John Berry has been in the music business for almost 40 years, and he’s held a Christmas tour for the last 20 of those. 

Describing his typical music as “sort of ’90s country,” the singer enjoys performing during the holiday season, making anywhere between 18 to 25 stops on his Christmas tour each year. 

“We love celebrating Christmas and we love going out and kind of reminding folks what Christmas is really all about,” Berry said. “The sharing of gifts and all that is great, but to us, the real meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ.” 

He said the tour actually began from a Christmas special he and his wife put together at their church many years ago.

“We kept doing it for a number of years, and then I recorded ‘O Holy Night’ and put the album out and got a major label deal and ending up putting a small tour together,” he said. “It just kept growing and growing.”

He said the concert is suitable for grandparents to grandkids, and those attending should expect traditional Christmas music.

“I do a lot of songs they’re going to know, and I do them pretty much in a way they will remember them having been done,” he said. “And then I have some new things, some I’ve written, some that friends of mine have written. But it’s all pretty traditional. It’s not messed with a whole lot.” 

But for those who have been to his concert before, Berry said they do “mix it up” every year. 

“There’s some songs we do every year, and then there are some songs we rotate in and out,” he said. “The tour usually sells out.”

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, at Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium. 

“I hope folks will come and be with us,” Berry said. “It’s always a great show at Gainesville.”

Milton Martin Honda of Gainesville presents the concert and all funds go toward Sisu, a nonprofit organization previously known as Challenged Child and Friends. 

The concert began in 2009 as a tribute to the memory of the late Coleman Miller, who was the son Butch Miller, an owner of Milton Martin Honda. 

Christmas with the Annie Moses Band 

When: 8 p.m Dec. 19

Where: Buford Community Center, 2200 Buford Highway NE, Buford

How much: $27-35

More info:

The Annie Moses Band will tour the country to present their annual Christmas tour, making a stop in Buford at 8 p.m Dec. 19, to perform at the Buford Community Center. 

The family band began about 15 years ago and “combines Americana flavors with folk” while remaining “classically based.” 

“There’s kind of this marriage of classical music and Americana music,” said Annie Dupre, a member of the band. “The nature of Annie Moses Band music is that we are known for taking pieces that are beloved that people have heard for years and really turning them into something they’ve never heard before and exploring them in a brand new way.”

She said this time of year is a signature season for the band.

“From the get-go, Christmas was a super important part of our touring year,” she said. “People love the fact that we’re a family displaying what it means to make music together and love that process and bring joy to people in a concert.”

The Christmas concert will consist of a string quartet and a full rhythm section. 

“I think the Christmas concert is a little bit more on the classical side than our regular show,” Dupre said. “This Christmas tour, we’re going to have some new music. And then we’ve got favorites as well as just beautiful holiday songs. It’s a wonderful concert for families.”

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