Every community has its traditions, each with a unique and long-standing significance. According to Moscow native and University of Idaho freshman Elaine Zabriskie, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Choir’s annual Holiday Concert is one of those traditions. Zabriskie performed in the concert once in third grade and again when she was a junior in high school. Her family attends the event every year.
“When I was in third grade, I didn’t understand,” Zabriskie said. “I was in awe of it all, but when I came back as a junior, I was even more so. I finally realized how much work went into this. It wasn’t just magic, it was hard work.”
The Jazz Choir’s Holiday Concert began nearly 30 years ago with the help of long-time Jazz Choir Director Daniel Bukvich. The event has since stitched itself into the patchwork of Moscow’s Christmas traditions, creating fond memories for students like Zabriskie, Bukvich said.
The concert incorporates elementary, junior high and high school students throughout North Idaho and Eastern Washington.
These students collaborate with UI’s jazz choir program and orchestra to perform holiday music. The music varies from classic carols to original music arranged by Bukvich and his colleagues, as well as a few pieces arranged by UI students. The Kibbie Dome — where the concert is traditionally held — is filled with roughly 700 voices, singing about the joys of the holiday season, Bukvich said.
The featured musicians and various choirs only have one rehearsal as a whole group before the event. Often times, accompanying musicians do not see their sheet music until the day of the performance, Bukvich said.
“It’s a taste of the real world for our students who want to be professional musicians,” Bukvich said.
Their hard work and dedication has not wavered over the years, resulting in an event the entire Palouse can be proud of. Bukvich said he credits local volunteers and supporters for shaping the concert into what it is today, and said he hopes to see the growth continue.
“We have a huge commitment as a school of music and a university to the community of Moscow,” Bukvich said. “This is a great tradition. It’s a way to every year just go, ‘It’s nice to be here.'”
Zabriskie said she is proud to be a part of such a meaningful, far-reaching holiday tradition.
“Everyone is showcasing their talents and being spirited, and it’s just nice to be around a bunch of people who really care,” Zabriskie said.
The Holiday Concert is from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12 in the Kibbie Dome.
Admission is by donation. Proceeds will go to the Lionel Hampton School of Music.
Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at email@example.com