Playing for St. Cecilia

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Backstage at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries there is a low hum of anxious students talking. Shining brass trumpets are taken out of their cases and tap shoes are put on. After Santa hats are distributed, Music Director Kelly Kingett comes back to announce the concert's start. A final prayer is said through the intercession of St. Cecilia, and places are taken. The 2015 Saint John Paul the Great Christmas Concert begins.

John Paul's all male Brass Quintet, dressed in Christmas sweaters to set the Christmas mood, opened the evening Dec. 10 by inviting the audience to sing along. Two trumpets and a trombone performed an improvisation of "White Christmas," followed by performances by the dance classes. In only the second year as part of the Christmas concert, the dance classes performed ballet, tap and even a flamenco dance to "Feliz Navidad." Two students from the Options Program stole the show, and senior Michael Thorpe lit the theater with smiles as he danced his way across the stage, rose between his teeth, for "Feliz Navidad."

The guitar ensemble put their spin on several classics and had the audience rocking out to Christmas favorites. The string ensemble followed the guitars, featuring more than a dozen performers. They closed their set by inviting some members of the school band on stage for a jazz piece featuring "What Child Is This" and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

The last act of the festive night featured the John Paul band who performed Christmas favorites, including "Jingle Bells" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

Dedicating the evening's performance to St. Cecilia, patron saint of music and of the Nashville Dominicans who teach at John Paul, the musicians and dancers ended the concert with the annual tradition of "Sleigh Ride."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015