December 2019
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

AHA Christmas Gala Makes the Season Bright

Demarest, NJ: Audience members at the Academy of the Holy Angels Christmas Gala enjoyed a sing-along led by a festive elf, and a rendition of “Here Comes Santa Claus” that encouraged an uninspired elf to get into the holiday spirit.

Choral Director Lisa Marciano and Instrumental Music Director Mariann Annecchino orchestrated a well-paced blend of seasonal selections. AHA Handbell Choir members opened the concert with “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” They also rang out “Starry Night” and “Deck the Halls” with fabulous precision. Mrs. Annecchino directs the group with assistance from Captain Annabel Hazrati.

True to tradition, the AHA Concert Choir filed into auditorium singing Caccini’s “Ave Maria.” Each singer places her candle on the stage before taking her place on the risers. Academy Orchestra Concertmaster Samantha Shah accompanied the choir on her violin. This year’s choir managers are Leah Sanchez and Cassandra Davila.

The choir’s selections included the uplifting “Can You Hear the Angels?” The girls sang, clapped, and moved in gospel style. Catherine Callahan was the featured soloist. The group also presented “Stars I Shall Find” and “We Need a Little Christmas.”

Members of the Select Strings ensemble took the audience back to a candlelit Baroque church with their presentation of Corelli’s “Concerto Grosso in G Minor.” Members of this group include Samantha Shah, Claire Lim, Faith Youn, Erin Yang, Chelsie Lim, Cecilia Yun, Uijin (Katherine) Kang, Nayoun Kim, and Catherine Chang. Several of these musicians participate in international competitions, and study music at Holy Angels and in renowned schools that include Juilliard.

The Vocal Ensemble presented “O Magnum Mysterium,” a complex piece sung entirely in Latin. The group also sang “This Endris Night” and the spirited “Ábreme La Puerta.” The latter piece was a brief departure for the a cappella group as it included ukulele by Joanna Scorese and guiro by Catherine Callahan. This number also featured a dash of choreography and plenty of smiles from the ensemble and the audience. “Here Comes Santa Claus” highlighted alto Carol Laux getting into the Christmas spirit a little at a time, as she transformed from unenthused elf into merry Angel.

Sprightly Christmas elf Karina Berberian led the audience in singing well-loved carols as the Academy Orchestra performed its opening medley. Orchestra members continued with Prokofiev’s “Troika” from “Lt. Kije.” The musicians also delighted the audience with “Mary’s Boy Child” and “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.”

The gala concluded with the blended talents of Select Strings and the Concert Choir. These two ensembles performed “Glow” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” bringing the program full circle.

After the show, Principal Jean Miller announced that auditorium renovation plans are underway and could be complete before Christmas of 2020.

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Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

Academy of the Holy Angels

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