MORRISTOWN, NJ - After nine long months, the pandemic continues to take hold of our communities. People are staying home to stop the spread and are missing holiday celebrations and gatherings. So how can you spread holiday cheer when people are alone and isolated?
Two creative and talented sophomores from Morristown High School came up with a way.
Allison Chong and Charlotte Eriksen created and produced MHS's First Virtual Holiday Music Concert. Their mutual love of music, compassion and desire to give back to others was the backbone of the project. The girls brought together 20 Morristown High School musicians from the band, orchestra and choir to perform holiday and winter songs for the virtual concert.
At first, the idea was geared toward spreading holiday cheer to the students at The PG Chambers school, where Eriksen volunteered and various nursing homes which were important to Chong. In addition to those, the production has been shared with Wyckoff Reformed Church, Northern New Jersey Retired Men's Club and Autumn Lake Healthcare in Berkeley Heights. The girls are hoping to share the concert with more schools, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and hospitals this holiday season.
"Our wish for the holidays is to bring joy and happiness during times like these", said Chong who has been playing flute since fourth grade and in addition to being a member of the MHS Wind Symphony, is a competitive dancer.
After getting permission from the head of the music department, the girls jumped at the opportunity. The girls opened the project up to the music department and students signed up to perform solos, duets, trios and groups. Eriksen and Chong approved musical selections; making sure there were no duplicates. Groups would videotape their performances after agreeing to maintain COVID-19 guidelines while performing. The performances were then submitted and expertly edited by Heidy Carranza Alvarado.
"They have been working on putting it together since Thanksgiving and a lot of time went into it from Charlotte and Allie, from the students who edited and narrated it, and then the students who performed in it", said MHS Director of Bands David Gallagher. "I could not be prouder of the hard work and dedication shown by my students. Putting together a virtual performance is no easy task and these students have shown tremendous initiative and thoughtfulness in this project. The power of music to bring people together cannot be understated".
Chris Ruiz, creatively narrates the 47-minute concert which features holiday favorites like "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas", "Little Drummer Boy", "Mr. Grinch" and "Mary Did You Know".
Music has always been a part of Eriksen's life and she hopes the community enjoys the concert. She has been part of the band since fourth grade and is currently the Drum Major with the MHS Marching Band.
"We wanted to spread some holiday cheer", she said. "Please enjoy the show and happy holidays to all!"