Music Department brings holiday cheer at Holiday Assembly


Caroline Petersen

The choirs and orchestra perform an arrangement of “Jingle Bells” as fake snow falls around them.

The jazz band, directed by Matt Kurinsky, is positioned in front of the red velvet curtain covering the auditorium stage. Pink, green and red lights shine on them and the multiple poinsettia arrangements on either side. The house lights begin to dim, and the jazz band begins to play. 

Hinsdale Central’s Music Department performed their annual Holiday Assembly during second period on Friday, Dec. 16. Half of the school watched the performance at the beginning of the 90 minute period, while the other half watched at the end. They also performed a Holiday Concert the night before. 

Included in the concert were the orchestra, choirs and band. All three parts of the department performed a variety of songs, divided by what music class each student is taking. 

The order of the concert following the jazz band was Chamber Choir, band, all of the choirs – featuring Women’s Chorale – and the orchestra. The finale was an arrangement of “Jingle Bells” performed by the choirs and the orchestra. 

“That collaboration [for the finale] began when the music was chosen, directors collaborated, and students began rehearsing separately and together,” said Jennifer Burkemper, choir director. “You get to see the culmination of hours of rehearsal and practice. We get [to] experience collaboration at its finest.”

Directors mentioned their excitement about this collaboration between groups. 

“For me the holiday concert is the only time the music department can hear all of the groups perform,” said Serge Penksik, orchestra director. “It brings the entire department together, versus when we have our own separate orchestra, band and choir concerts. They all get to listen to each other, and it is well attended [by students and staff]. The holiday music is also fun to play.”

Grace Adduci, Assistant Director of Bands, was especially excited because this is her first year teaching at Hinsdale Central, as well as her first Central Holiday Concert.

My entire experience at Hinsdale Central has been a dream come true, and this Holiday Concert feels like it’s solidifying my place here in the music program,” Adduci said. 

Matt Kurinsky introduces the band before their performance at the Holiday Assembly. (Caroline Petersen)

Each section of the music department began rehearsing their holiday repertoire early on. Penksik and the orchestras began in November after their first concert, while Burkemper and the choirs began swiftly after their October concert. Additionally, the directors mentioned how much attention to detail there needed to be in order to have a successful concert. 

“So much goes into selection of repertoire,” Burkemper said. “Knowing my students, wanting to teach certain vocal and choral techniques, increasing music literacy and providing a wide variety of music from different cultures and perspectives always inform those decisions.”

Adduci thinks that each of the pieces selected for the bands highlights the best part of each ensemble and reflects the joy of the holiday season. 

After performing the concert and two assemblies, all of the music groups are tired, but ready to start rehearsing for the spring. 

“I appreciate the opportunity for the fine arts to be showcased,” Burkemper said. “In a school that has strong athletics, I believe it is important for the student body to see all of the achievements and excellence that we have to offer at Central. Individual athleticism and teamwork are on full display as students share their creative talents on stage and that is something we are proud to bring to our performances. We hope you will see how much we enjoy what we learn and do and how grateful we are to share it with all of Central.”

To ask questions about Central’s music department, email Grace Adduci (band), Jennifer Burkemper (choir), Matt Kurinsky (band) or Serge Penksik (orchestra). The Fine Arts department chair is Patrick Maag.