The Kibbie Dome will ring with hundreds of voices from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. Elementary, junior high and high school choirs will come together alongside a variety of University of Idaho ensembles to put on two hours of nonstop music.
Concert admission is free to all, due to support from the Lionel Hampton School of Music and the UI President’s Office. Attendees will have the opportunity to make donations to the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences if they choose, but the event is hosted and livestreamed via UI Live as a “gift to the community.”
Dan Bukvich, director of jazz choirs for the Lionel Hampton School of Music, has been a part of the Jazz Choirs Holiday Concert since its beginning 28 years ago.
“It takes a lot of work to make it a special concert,” Bukvich said. “We try to get everybody into this magical zone in the Kibbie Dome.”
While the 2017 concert will feature anywhere from 800 to 1,000 performers, the concert hasn’t always been such a large-scale event.
“It started as a concert with jazz choir and one children’s choir in the Admin Building,” Bukvich said. “We have no idea how it has grown.”
Today, the tradition includes over 20 different groups, including the UI jazz band, orchestra and jazz choir.
For some local students, the holiday concerts are a constant throughout their academic careers.
“We have students in the jazz choir here who have been in this since they were in grade school,” Bukvich said.
One holiday concert veteran, jazz choir performer Cody Wendt, has been participating in the Jazz Choirs Holiday Concert since he was in the second grade at John Russell Elementary School. He said he remembers they had “just opened up the choir to second graders” at the time, placing him among a pioneering group of the youngest performers to be part of the concert.
For Wendt, the experience of performing in the Holiday Concert has been an evolution of advancing between the different choral parts.
From children’s choir to high school choir, and now the university choir, Wendt said he has “sung almost all the different parts in (the) medley.”
“It’s a neat feeling to have been on all sides of it,” Wendt said.
Like Wendt, David Knerr has also been performing in the Jazz Choirs Holiday Concert for most of his life.
“This’ll be somewhere in the 20s,” Knerr said, counting the number of times he has been part of the event.
Knerr said he remembers his early experiences in the Holiday Concert as awe-filled events, as the “mass of humanity” performing alongside him on the risers stretched to fill the Admin Building and later the Kibbie Dome.
“I was sort of sold the moment they pulled out this massive triangle,” Knerr said, remembering the university percussion groups who performed with his children’s choir.
Although no longer as easily enamored by the sight of large percussion instruments and sprawling crowds, Knerr said he still looks forward to the concert each year because of the “endurance aspect.”
“At the end of it there’s just that feeling of satisfaction,” Knerr said. “Finding something to improve on brings me back year after year.”
Beth Hoots can be reached at arg-arts.uidaho.edu
28th Jazz Choirs
When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
Location: UI Kibbie Dome
Livestream at www.uidaho.edu/news/ui-live