Originally Published: December 18, 2012 12:01 a.m.
As John and Sherry DuPont of Prescott waited for the Prescott POPS Symphony and Prescott POPS Festival Chorus performance of The Many Moods of Christmas to begin Friday, they said they came to listen to get in the Christmas spirit.
"We're staying in a hotel until our new home is ready, so we don't have any decorations, they're all in a box," Sherry said. "We came here to enjoy a little bit of Christmas."
Stage lights changed colors on the ornaments hanging from pine garlands over stage as concert goers listened to "Adeste Fideles," "Jingle Bells," "Silver Bells," "Silent Night," "The First Noel," and many more Christmas songs. Guest Conductor and Choral Director Darrell James Rowlander told jokes between movements of the suite arranged by Robert Russell Bennett and Robert Shaw for the Atlanta Symphony in the 1950s.
Midway through the concert, the Prescott POPS Symphony awarded $20,000 in grants to 10 Prescott area schools that were accepted by instrumental music department directors and school principals on stage, said Paul Manz, conductor and music director of the Prescott POPS Symphony.
Franklin Phonetic School will use $3,000 to buy a baritone horn, Prescott Mile High Middle School will use $3,000 for a coach for their strings section, and Acorn Montessori School in Prescott Valley will use $2,828 to start up a music program, Prescott Pops Symphony Board Member Shelley Field said during the concert.
"They (Acorn Montessori) have about 28 different uses for this from a violin to a trombone and everything in between," Fields said.
Park View Middle School and Canyon View Prep received $1,000 to repair instruments, buy mallets for percussion and sheet music, and three Humboldt Unified School District middle schools received money for a fender bass amp, a tenor sax, clarinet and alto sax, Fields said.
"Granite Mountain Middle School requested a grant to repair cellos and tubas and to update the music library, and they're receiving $3,000," Fields said.
During intermission, Elise Banyaa of Poland Junction said this was the first time she brought her granddaughter Rose Robinson to the symphony.
"I liked hearing the voices with the orchestra," Rose said, saying she had played the flute in school.
Makenzie Kimball of Prescott said she was there to see a friend who plays the cello in the symphony.
Priscilla Wright, a donor to the Prescott POPS Symphony, said she just loved being at the concert.
"I love the Prescott POPS Symphony," Wright said. "I've been coming to see them since they started."
Throughout the year, the board awards individual scholarships to music students for private study, Manz said.
"In February we'll be giving out our scholarship to a middle school instrumental music student who plans to continue into high school," Fields said, urging people to apply for the scholarship that can be used for individual lessons or band camp.
Stephen and Daniel Ramsay of Prescott Valley, tenors in the POPS Festival Choir, said they like singing with the orchestra and hearing the orchestra's version of the songs.
In July, the board named Stephanie Hillig, principal of Granite Mountain Middle School, their Administrator of the Year for "finding ways to increase the size of their music program despite the current climate of cut, cut, cut," Manz said.
"She has continually demonstrated her belief that music is an integral part of a students' complete education," Manz said. "The symphony awarded her $500 to use towards music in her school."
Donna and David Rigby, brought their children with them to the concert, and said they enjoyed the chorus singing along with the orchestra.
"It's so festive and it puts you in the mood for Christmas," Donna said.