LIVINGSTON, NJ – On Thurs., Dec. 19, the students of Aquinas Academy hosted their Christmas Concert. Students from every grade in the pre-K through eighth-grade school participated by singing, playing instruments and celebrating Christmas.
After a prelude by pianist Jon Tyillian, the sixth- through eighth-graders processed into the church. The student body president welcomed everyone by saying, “It is our hope that our voices will express the joy of Christmas.” They sang two more songs—one with a bass guitar soloist and another with a vocal soloist.
“It’s my first year here,” said sixth-grader Amanda Caprio, about the performance. “I didn’t know it was going to go so well. I was so glad.”
The youngest students, the pre-K through first-graders, were the next to sing. They sang enthusiastically, smiling and waving to their parents when they spotted them in the crowd. The audience laughed when one child started early and the students nearby shushed him. One song they sang involved the words ‘overflowing’ and ‘everlasting,’ –big words, even for a first grader.
A female soloist sang, “Sleigh Ride” next. She understood the phrasing of the song, and stayed in tempo with the pianist. Directly after she sang, the 16-student Advanced Band played two recognizable Christmas songs, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Feliz Navidad.” Though they were nestled in one of the wings of the church, they played loud enough for everyone to hear.
The second- and third-graders sang two songs. One song they performed had clapping patterns and was clearly a favorite of many of the students because a few parents said, “Oh, is this ‘that’ song?”
A female soloist performed “O, Holy Night,” singing and playing the piano. She then joined the next choir in singing three songs. The 29-member Senior Choir ended with “Carol of the Bells” and sang all three parts of the song clearly.
The fourth- and fifth-grade students were the last choir to sing. The 36 members performed two songs. The first had two duets and the second was “Believe” from the movie, “The Polar Express.” Of the two songs, the students performed this one with much more understanding, both of the music and of the meaning of the song.
An eighth-grade soloist then sang, “O Come, O Come Emanuel” to introduce the eighth-grade’s Nativity scene. The students processed in, while a teacher read a short story of Jesus’ life. After this, the audience was invited to join in singing two Christmas songs with the students.
“That was a little bit overwhelming,” said Sr. Lena Picillio, the principal at Aquinas Academy, as she congratulated the students. “It was a wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior.”
“This represents so much of what we are at Aquinas Academy and St. Philomena’s,” said Monsignor Thomas Nydegger, pastor of St. Philomena’s Church. “The revelation of God’s love couldn’t have been more perfectly expressed.”
“Aquinas Academy proved once again why it has the best choir in Livingston,” said Father Brian Needles. “It has remembered the real reason for the season.”