Festival puts music in the spotlight
New Trier HS Choir Opera group perform "Fruitcake" Dec. 16 at the New Trier Winter Music Festival. | Kevin Tanaka~for Sun-Times Media.
Updated: December 28, 2012 2:10PM
After 95 years, the New Trier Winter Music Festival continues going strong, “Fruitcake” and all.
Shortly before the Dec. 16 performance, senior Rachel Jones and sophomore Solena Rizzato, both of whom perform in the choir and symphony orchestra, were preparing for the show as the Gates Gymnasium slowly filled.
Rizzato has attended the festival since before she became a New Trier student and enjoys having the music department in the spotlight.
“We want to get people in the holiday spirit,” Rizzato said. “It’s just fun and spontaneous. Every year it is so, so amazing.”
This show would be the fourth, and final performance for Jones, who was sad to be leaving, but excited to again take part in the community tradition.
“I want it to go well,” Jones said. “I’ll probably be coming back next year to see my friends like (Rizzato) perform. I like how we do the same songs each year. It brings back memories.”
One of those old favorites was “Fruitcake,” which was saved from being cut from the set list. The song received a thunderous applause from the standing-room only audience.
The music festival featured familiar Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday classics, as well as a tribute to the film “Home Alone.”
Wilmette resident John Tatgenhorst has worked with John Williams, who composed music for the 1990 hit film, and Tatgenhorst adapted it for the New Trier students to perform.
“I wanted to do a big suite for this orchestra,” said Tatgenhorst, who was in attendance to see his daughter, senior Laura, perform. “Every year I come here and I’m astounded at how well it sounds. I’m glad she’s singing with her dad’s music.”
The winter music tradition, which includes students involved in band, choir and orchestra, began in 1917 and predates the venerable Gates Gymasium by 12 years.
“It’s a grand tradition,” said music department chairman David Ladd. “People in the community who had children at the school 20, 30 years ago still come every year.”
As far back as anyone can remember, each performance has ended with the singing of “Hallelujah Chorus,” and the 2012 show continued that tradition.
“The whole gym is full and it does have a big show feel,” said senior Matt Smith. “It was kind of nostalgic singing “Hallelujah Chorus” in rehearsal. I thought it was weird that it will be the last time I’m singing it at New Trier.” ~.