The buzz in the IU Auditorium was deafening Saturday afternoon as the audience regrouped following the matinee performance of Chimes of Christmas.
The production, a collaboration between Singing Hoosiers and other on-campus and local music and dance groups, was directed by Jacobs School of Music visiting lecturer Ly Wilder.
Wilder has been the interim director of Singing Hoosiers for the last two years and was with the group for three years prior to taking the position. She said almost all of the show’s material, including a modified number from “Hamilton: The Musical” and a Bollywood style “Jingle Bells,” was arranged specifically for this production.
“If you think about ‘Hamilton,’ that’s the freshest thing in musical theater,” Wilder said. “Of course, that’s not Christmas, but we had to make it Christmas.”
Wilder said she hopes adding these new elements brings new energy to the show, which has been a tradition at IU for more than half a century. Along with the new Christmas numbers, the show featured a performance from Hooshir, IU’s Jewish acapella group.
Wilder said while the name of the show is Chimes of Christmas, she wants to make sure that the production is inclusive and reaches relatable to all groups in attendance.
To senior Brandon Porter, Chimes of Christmas is a timeless tradition for Singing Hoosiers, with each production having its own unique qualities, he said. Porter, a Musical Theater Direction major, is one of two student managers for the group.
“The Singing Hoosiers have such a beautiful, storied tradition that has taken place over 67 years, and we evolve and we change every single year,” Porter said.
This is Porter’s fourth year with the group, which he said he’s been a part of since his first day of freshman year.
A big difference for him this year was more integration of younger students from Syncopation, a show choir for middle school-aged students, which is part of Bloomington Expressive Arts Training. BEAT is a community arts program founded and run by Wilder and her wife, who choreographed much of Saturday’s show.
“It was really awesome to have the kids involved with us more than they have been in the past,” Porter said.
A quality that Porter said Wilder brings to Singing Hoosiers is a level of passion he has not encountered with other people he’s worked with.
“She has a heart that’s bigger than anyone on this planet,” Porter said.
Wilder said normally the Singing Hoosiers have a fall preview on the first week of October, but this year it was halfway through the month. She said this made it feel like the day of Chimes, the group’s main fall semester production, had come early.
To add to the already stressful atmosphere, Wilder said a bass that was supposed to be used in the show suffered damages overnight. They found out it was not functioning an hour and a half before curtain call and had to rush to get a different one ready.
After the 2 p.m. show, Wilder said she was pleased by the energy on stage but a little surprised by how engaged the audience was so early on in the day.
“Sometimes a matinee audience can be a little bit more reserved, but we felt really privileged to hang out with this audience today,” Wilder said
She said Singing Hoosiers functions like a community, and the musicians support each other like a family would. Their level of devotion to the group and to their music is something she hoped the audience saw.
Porter said the group’s drive for success ensured there was something new at every performance. The Singing Hoosier’s spring production in April will not be the same as last year’s, nor will it be the same as the one done a decade ago.
“The Singing Hoosiers work so hard and they pour their hearts out every single time that we walk on stage, and I want people to experience that,” Porter said.
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