By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (December 2, 2016) – As recognizable as the images of baby Jesus in the manger and Santa Claus toting his bag of holiday cheer are the hymns and carols that provide the Christmastime soundtrack. From area schools and churches to community-wide events, there are a number of ways to fill your ears with the spirit this season. Here’s a selection of the happenings:
SATURDAY, DEC. 3
A local tradition, Handel’s Messiah, featuring Tarleton State University choirs and masterworks orchestra along with the Cross Timbers Civic Chorale will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the university’s Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center auditorium.
More than 130 musicians combine for the performance led Dr. Troy Robertson, Tarleton’s director of choirs.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through the Fine Arts Center Box Office.
The event marks the 37th annual masterworks performance on the Stephenville campus.
SUNDAY, DEC. 4
Stephenville Christmas Festival
The annual choral masterpiece presented by First Baptist Church Stephenville includes two performances. The public is invited to attend at 10:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. The church is located at 334 West Green Street.
MONDAY, DEC. 5
Valley Grove presents Christmas cantata
Jesus is the reason for the season. The story of his birth, death and resurrection will unfold at Valley Grove Baptist Church, where an upcoming Christmas cantata dinner theater welcomes the holiday.
The production is dramatic, but in true cantata style, the story will unfold with the choir speaking to the audience through song.
Seating is limited to about 200 attendees. Dinner service begins at 6:30 p.m. featuring a meal prepared by the women of the congregation and served by the youth. The production is expected to end around 8 p.m.
There is no charge for admission or the meal, but reservations and arrangements for ticket delivery must be made by calling 254-965-5195.
Tarleton’s instrumental, vocal groups present annual Holiday Collage concert
Tarleton State University’s Department of Fine Arts presents its fifth annual Holiday Collage Concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center auditorium.
The concert kicks off with Brad Holmes’s dynamic African Noel, featuring the choirs and student percussionists. Assistant Jazz Professor Greg Ball and the Jazz Ensemble then perform Thad Jones’s A Child Is Born and Alan Blaylock’s arrangement of Let It Snow. The choirs, under the direction of Dr. Troy Robertson, will present arrangements of Silent Night, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and A La Nanita.
Dr. Anthony Pursell, director of bands, and the Wind Ensemble conclude the concert with Alfred Reed’s Russian Christmas Music. Audience members are invited to join performers and faculty pianist Steve Chambers throughout the program in singing holiday favorites.
Tickets are $5 for adults or free with a Tarleton ID. The box office will open one hour before the concert. All seating is general admission.
TUESDAY DEC. 6
Gilbert, Henderson bands perform
The bands from Gilbert Intermediate and Henderson Junior High combine to bring a free holiday concert to the public at 7 p.m. at the Stephenville High School auditorium.
Band Director Mike Childs said the concert will be the first public performance for sixth graders, giving the band members a chance to show off everything they’ve learned over the last four months.
The bands will perform traditional Christmas carols, including fun arrangement of standard holiday pieces, as well as everything the public would expect from a holiday concert.
THURSDAY, DEC. 8
SHS bands present annual Christmas concert
Stephenville High School bands, including the jazz and symphonic bands and wind ensemble, will present arrangements of various Christmas songs at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
As a special treat, Stephenville ISD Superintendent Matt Underwood will narrate the classic Christmas story, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas during the performance.
The concert is free and open to the public, but community members are being reminded that the event includes the bands’ annual auction fundraiser. Between performances, a student auctioneer leads the live auction and audience members bid on an array of gift baskets assembled by each section – flutes, clarinets, saxophones and others. Funds raised through the auction help fund the bands’ spring trip.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10
Tarleton’s Gordon Center presents ‘The Fingerless Fiddler’
Tarleton State University’s W.K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas hosts Roy Thackerson—The Fingerless Fiddler—and his band.
The free music program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the museum in the historic ghost town of Thurber. Free refreshments will be served.
For more information, call 254-968-1886 or email email@example.com.
The W.K. Gordon Center, a Tarleton museum and research facility, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. The center is located at Exit 367 on Interstate 20 between Fort Worth and Abilene. For more information, visit www.tarleton.edu/gordoncenter or the museum’s Facebook page.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 12
SHS presents holiday choir concert
Stephenville High School’s five choirs present a collage of holiday music at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.
Choir Director Arielle Sword said some of the selections will be fun, such as an all-male performance of “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.” The event will also feature sacred carols and more current pop tunes like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
“I am also very excited about an alumni and teacher choir we have put together that will present a medley of songs,” Sword said. “The principal will play jingle bells.”
The performance open to the public free of charge and Sword hopes to pack the auditorium with audience members.
THURSDAY, DEC. 15
Holly Jolly Christmas caroling
There will be plenty of singing, dancing and festive fun at Holly Jolly Christmas in downtown Stephenville, including Carols in the Courthouse by In the Mix.
The group of performers, the vocal jazz choir from Stephenville High School, will stand inside the upper level of the Erath County Courthouse, unseen by listeners below. Their vocals will bounce off the stone and marble, emitting a magical Christmas sound during performances at 6:45 and 7:15 p.m.
The entire event, which is held from 6 until 9 p.m., includes other holiday activities like the official lighting of the Christmas tree, visits with Santa, cookie decorating, carriage ride, dance and cheer performances and more.
SATURDAY, DEC. 17
Join Lilly J Ranch, Texas Homegrown Radio, Lilly J Riding Club and other sponsors for a remote broadcast from the Twisted J complex, located at 2285 North U.S. Highway 377 in Stephenvillle.
The ranch and riding club will be holding a toy and food drive from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and supporters can get their fill of free pizza, Dublin Bottling Works, coffee and hot cocoa. Twisted J Boutique will also offer a discount on holiday shopping for those who donate to the collection effort, which benefits the Pantry and More.
Texas Home Grown Radio front man Jody Lee Caudle will keep the Christmas music tuned up throughout the event, and live entertainers are expected to also make an appearance to spread some holiday cheer.
Pictures with Santa will be available 1-3 p.m. as a part of the coinciding Twisted J Christmas Party that features shopping inside the boutique and with vendors offering some one-of-a-kind gifts.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 23
Have a Rockin’ Christmas Eve’s Eve
Join Timber Ridge Church for Rockin’ Christmas Eve’s Eve. Two identical services will be held at 5:30 and 7 p.m., which lead Pastor Nic Burleson said will be a fun-filled experience for the entire family.
The event will feature rockin’ Christmas music, treats and a hot cocoa bar, goodies and activities for children at the KidRidge ministry, a classic Christmas carol sing-along, pictures with Santa Claus and a chance to play in snow.
Timber Ridge Church is located at North Bates and FM 8 in Stephenville.
For more information, visit www.rockmychristmas.com