Home for the holidays should feel like home

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As the members of the Columbine Singers planned their annual holiday concert, they thought first and foremost about the people who were far away from home, in Iraq and Afghanistan. They titled the concert "Home for the holidays" and tried to choose songs that a soldier returning home might want to hear.

They chose to sing all the Christmas carol standards such as "Silent Night" and "White Christmas." They tried to create a concert that was, above all things, warm.

"We want it to feel good to go this year," Columbine Singers director Christel Houston said. "I'm so in love with Christmas music and with what Steamboat turns into during Christmas. If you are home for the holidays, it should feel like home."

Houston thinks there are certain Christmas carols that everyone wants to hear at least once during the season, and she sorted through file cabinets of music to find them.

"People want it to feel like Christmas," she said.

The Columbine Singers, formerly the Columbine Chorale, has been giving its Christmas concert since 1983 as part of a semester-long class offered by Colorado Mountain College. There are new members every semester and members who have been with the group for almost the entire two decades of its existence.

Although the carols are classics, Houston was sure to choose arrangements that are challenging.

"This is level-five music. In the chorale repertoire, this is the hardest you can get," she said. "To the audience, it will sound like beautiful chorale music, but we had to work at it. They all have doubts at the beginning of the semester, but we always manage to pull it off."

Mary Beth Norris will accompany the chorale on the flute, Brian Houston will play the piano, and Erin Green will play harp. Santa Claus will make a pre-Christmas visit.

"He will encourage the kids to be good until Christmas by giving them candy," Houston said.

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