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Choir to join Light-Up Night festivities

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

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Kris Radder

Decorations are erected in preparation for Light-Up Night.

The Point Park University Singers will fill the air with song during the official tree lighting ceremony as the city kicks off its holiday season with Light Up Night.

The choir will sing in the first big event, which is scheduled to begin at noon on Friday at the City-County Building. It will be televised by KDKA-TV. The choir will be singing as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl lights the tree.

The tree lighting ceremony is one of the events that will be taking place on Light Up Night weekend, which is traditionally the kickoff of the Christmas season for downtown Pittsburgh.

The choir will perform "O Christmas Tree," right after the mayor turns on the tree's lights.

Early in December, the choir will be singing Christmas carols for the Point Park faculty, students and family. That Christmas concert is scheduled to take place in the Point Cafe of Lawrence Hall on Dec. 3.

The on-campus event is a chance for the choir to show the rest of the community what it has been working on since the beginning of the semester.

The choir is made up of students from a variety of majors, and the members appreciate that aspect of the group.

"My favorite part about being in the choir is getting to sing with such a diverse group of students," Jeff Johnston, a choir member and sophomore education major said.

The director said he was pleased with the diverse group of students he has as well.

"It will be probably end up being a small choir this year," Ricardo Tobia, choir director, said. "The size of the choir changes every semester."

Basically there are enough students to represent the four voice parts, he said.

Without question, a key component of the choir is the piano player. Franck Van Mastrigt fulfills that role for this group, which usually gets a new pianist every semester.

"It's something different than what I am used to," Van Mastrigt said. "I used to accompany instrumental groups at Carnegie Mellon."

Mastright said that he was impressed with the director's abilities to lead the choir.

"He does a good job of mixing all the voice parts," he said. "He knows how to get the best sound out of his students."

There is an advantage to the size of this group: having a small choir gives the director a chance to allow any willing members to sing solos.

"All the members of the choir are great singers," Tobia said.

The choir members will be easy to recognize this year because they will be wearing new robes. They will also be using folders, but only because it makes the members feel more comfortable, not because they are unprepared.

The choir practices once a week throughout the school year. It meets from 7-9 p.m. every Monday in room 615 in Lawrence Hall.

It is open to all students, both residents and commuters. Students are welcome to come and observe choir practices to decide whether it is an activity that they would like to take part in. For those who would like to join, there is no audition required.

The class can be taken for credit or not, and some said that the class should be required at least for musical theater students. Members, though, must agree that they will attend rehearsal every week.

Some of the students even come early to practices to talk with the director and help him to set up the room for practice. Some said such enthusiasm is born of passion for engaging the music.

"It is the only activity that I wanted to take part in," David McElroy, a junior musical theater major and assistant director for the choir, said.

For those who cannot attend their #Christmas-themed events, there will be a few more chances to hear the group, such as during its spring concert, a performance at PNC Park and at the University's commencement ceremony.

"We will be doing a variety of music this year, which consists of everything, including Classical," Tobia said.

Johnston said he enjoys studying under the direction of Tobia because "he truly shows his love for music when he directs."

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