Chester Grade School student musicians, teachers and parents were all glad to see live performances return with a festive Junior High Christmas Concert Thursday, Dec. 2, at Chester High School's Colbert Gymnasium -- a venue big enough to seat a large crowd and still offer social distancing.
The concert featured the three veteran music groups at CGS -- the Sixth Grade Band, the Junior High Chorus and the Junior High Band, which includes seventh and eighth grade musicians.
First up was the Sixth Grade Band, under the direction of Sue Colonel, with three holiday selections: "A Rather Bumpy Sleigh Ride," "Welcome Christmas," and "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The sixth graders did a wonderful job and were met with loud applause from the audience.
Next came the Junior High Chorus, under the direction of Steve Colonel and accompanied by Vicky Beers. The choir was in full swing as they performed three Christmas favorites -- "Gloria," "Silent Night," and "Yule Be Swingin."
After rehearsing under somewhat strained conditions during the past year due to COVID restrictions, the junior high students bounded on stage for the first time in almost two years and wowed the large group of parents and family members in attendance.
The final group to perform was the Junior High Band, manned by the most veteran, experienced musicians at CGS.
They played four familiar Christmas songs -- "A Festival of Carols," "Greensleeves," "Christmas Island," and "The Night Before Christmas."
All four selections were thoroughly enjoyed by the huge audience, and the musicians had a grand time performing "live" for the crowd.
Also back this year was the annual Christmas collection to benefit the Chester Area Christian Food Pantry.
"Last year we were unable to have our collection since the Christmas concert had to be canceled due to COVID closings," said Steve Colonel.
"The food pantry is especially busy this time of year, and pantry manager Bob Koenegstein really appreciates our donation so he and pantry staff can purchase food items necessary to feed client families at Christmas."
Students passed plastic ice cream buckets through the crowd and most concertgoers were very generous with their donations.
Coming up for the student musicians: the IGSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest in March; IGSMA State Solo and Ensemble Contest and IGSMA State Organizational Contest in April; the CGS Spring Concert Wednesday, April 27; and the CHS Spring Concert Tuesday, May 10.