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Three Dawson County ensembles performed festive holiday songs for their winter concerts
The Dawson County combined high school and junior high band plays “Santa the Barbarian” during the winter concert held Thursday, Dec. 15. - photo by Rio White

With Christmas soon approaching, the Dawson County high school, junior high and middle school bands each gave locals a taste of the holiday season with their recent performances of classic and remixed festive musical pieces. 

The musical proceedings began on Tuesday, Dec. 13, with the middle school band under the direction of Jeremiah Hyatt. 

Consisting of sixth and seventh-graders from DCMS, the ensemble gave a glimpse of the development of young musicians in Dawson County.

The eighth grade and high school bands played Thursday night, under the direction of Nicholas Gattis. 

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While both ensembles played songs that showcased both skill and entertainment, the highlight of the night’s performances came when the bands combined forces for the finale, titled “Santa the Barbarian”.

Despite the combined band having had to practice the finale as three separate classes during the day, Gattis was impressed with how the collective effort went on stage.

“They pulled it off very well because they were prepared,” Gattis said. “Some did not know how it was going to turn out until we performed it for the audience. I told the youngest ones to let the high schooler take the lead and follow closely so the tempo or volume does not get out of hand.”

“Santa the Barbarian” featured an ominous narrator, a macabre motif of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”, and prominent parts from nearly every instrument. 

That final entertaining performance capped a concert that began with the eighth grade band playing “Bell Carol Rock” and “Jingle Jazz”, allowing the performers to try out Christmas music in a more creative style.

The high school band played four distinct pieces, beginning with “Sleigh Ride”. After finishing up the familiar tune, the band ventured into different territory with the next three songs.

In contrast to the previous piece, the band played a serene arrangement titled “Old Scottish Melody”, which prominently featured “Auld Lang Syne”.

The following two pieces would increase in energy, with the first being “Stars and Stripes for Christmas”— a festive tribute to patriotic American music. 

Wrapping up the high school ensemble performance was “We Wish You a Mambo Christmas”, a song that the band had played a couple years before and had been requested by the students to play again.

Overall, the musical selection allowed each band member to play in both a fun and challenging manner.

“Each piece had its own challenges at varying degrees,” Gattis said. “Some sections were easier, which allowed us to spend our time working on music that was fun but not constantly challenging, which helps keep us on pace.”