The holiday season is in full swing and Western Nebraska Community College music, vocal music and theater arts students are bringing the Christmas spirit to the stage with “A Very Valley Christmas.”

The show is set to return to the Scottsbluff campus, Dec. 6 and 7 in the Judy Chaloupka Theater as the college concludes the fall semester with one final performance in the new theater. As the college celebrates the new Platte Valley Companies Performing Arts Center, all three WNCC performing arts programs are collaborating for the performance, which is free and open to the public. The concert of holiday music will take place Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes before the show.

“This is our fourth year presenting ‘A Very Valley Christmas,’” Dr. Patrick Newell, WNCC choral activities director, said. “We wanted this year to be special, so we are featuring a full orchestra for some of the selections. Our students and local musicians will be able to meet and collaborate with professional players from around the region. I think our audience will be in for a treat.”

With the first concert days away, choir students spent class Monday working on their articulation and pitch for their songs. Some of the holiday favorites the audience can expect to hear are “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Sussex Carol,” tunes from the classic animated special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Little Drummer Boy” performed by instrumental groups Fire in the Pan Swingers and Western Nebraska Winds, and the vocal music groups Collegiate Chorale and Varsity Vocalise. As always, anyone can join the performers on stage to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

For choral student James Maag, preparing for “A Very Valley Christmas” is always fun.

“It’s always fun to work with other performing arts groups in the Panhandle on this show,” he said.

As they worked through each song’s phrases, some of the students were reminded of their childhood.

“My favorite song is a ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ of course,” said Hannah Johns. “It reminds me of my childhood.”

Johns said the hardest song to perform is Hallelujah, which Newell began working with the students on Monday. Johns is confident they will master it before Friday and will connect with the audience.

“I hope people feel comfortable and get a nostalgic feeling about Christmas when they listen to us,” she said.

Students of the Theatre Arts program will join the musicians for “Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, A Fable with Music.” The piece will feature students narrating and pantomiming the story of the origin of the lovely carol “In dulci jubilo” to the accompaniment of the choirs and the orchestra. Local oboist Gina Johnson will be a soloist.

Newell wants his students to know their role as storytellers as the concert begins with “In dulci jubilo” and the unfolding narrative continues throughout the 90 minute concert. The concert will feature roughly 65 WNCC students as well as around 20 musicians.

“It’s a true collaboration,” Newell said. “I’m looking forward to the joy of seeing all these groups coming together. We want it to be a special performance. We are so excited to give the gift of beautiful music at the holidays. The community gives us so much support all year round, and this free concert is one way that we say ‘Thank you.’”

Tickets are not needed for this event. For more information on ‘A Very Valley Christmas’ contact the Platte Valley Companies Performing Arts Center Box Office at 308.635.6193 or

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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