Winterfest is an annual event in December hosted by the music department at Meredith. Ensembles such as Chorale, Encore, Chorus, Sinfonietta and Octavia perform at Winterfest. Typically Winterfest is in person, but due to COVID-19 it will be held virtually this year and members of the Meredith community will be able to watch the recording in December. The Herald spoke to Dr. Jim Waddelow, Associate Professor of Music, to learn more about Winterfest.
Dr. Waddelow explained, “This year, [the ensembles playing in the concert] will be the 50-member Meredith Philharmonic Orchestra, and my wonderful colleague, Dr. Carla Copland-Burns, will lead our flute ensemble, the Meredith Flutastix. With so many ensembles it takes a bit of coordination.” Dr. Waddelow also explained that planning for the concert begins in September since the concert always takes place the first weekend in December.
“Because the concert falls on top of final exams,” he said, “it takes a bit of extra care in planning from each of us who lead the ensembles. As a department, we want to provide a rewarding and memorable experience for everyone, but each of us also tries to balance that with the reality that the students we serve have projects, finals and critical deadlines in November and December.”
When asked what Winterfest means to him, Dr. Waddelow elaborated on how special Winterfest really is: “There are so many things that make the Winterfest weekend special. First of all, it is the only Music Department concert of the year where the instrumental, piano and vocal parts of the department all perform at the same concert on the same night. Another thing that is both unique and special: many alumni return year after year to campus for this concert.”
Additionally, at Winterfest, students taking the senior level Instrumentation/Arranging course are given a special opportunity. “Each year, a group of student conductors performs original orchestral arrangements written by a group of Meredith students who are taking [the] course,” Dr. Waddelow said. “The Meredith Music Department is the only program in the Southeast that does this.”
The Herald also spoke to students performing this year. Alaire Donofrio, ‘24, said, “Unfortunately, as a sophomore, I haven't been able to see Winterfest in full swing due to COVID-19, but from what I hear, it's essentially a massive concert that the whole music department anticipates and puts lots of effort into.” Donofrio explained that last year students “had the opportunity to pre-record our pieces for Winterfest and vicariously experience it, and to keep things safe for both the audience and performers we will be doing the same again this year.”
When asked about her favorite piece, Donofrio responded, “I'm particularly excited for people to hear Chorale sing ‘Infant Holy.’ It completely immerses you in a warm, cozy feeling and I think the audience will really enjoy hearing us sing it in the winter season.” Donofrio will be playing with Meredith Sinfonietta and singing in Chorale.
The Herald also spoke to Ingrid Santiago, ‘22, who explained that Winterfest will be her “last performance with Meredith choirs after seven semesters with them.” She said, “It's very emotional but it takes a village to put up and I'm very grateful that my last performance is going to be Winterfest.” Santiago explained that her favorite part of Winterfest “has always been getting to see what the other ensembles have prepared…we have such talented individuals at Meredith in all ensembles.” She said that her favorite piece this year is “a Hebrew piece called ‘Ma Navu’—it's absolutely beautiful and each voice part shines in its own way.”
The ensembles performing in Winterfest will be recording on Dec. 2, and the recording will be released following that date.
By Evelyn Summers, Staff Writer