School of Music Finds Ways to Celebrate Christmas Virtually

In the midst of a pandemic, local Christmas events have been altered for COVID-19 safety or have been canceled altogether as guidelines and restrictions change.

The Christmas on the Boulevard show that the School of Music does each year was not cancelled completely, but rather moved to a virtual format. 

However, the 2020 Christmas on the Boulevard plans to feature new, pre-recorded material as well as snippets from past shows during the livestream of the event on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m on the School of Music’s Facebook page. 

Timmy Williamson, director of Communication for the School of Music, said that they are still very excited to put on the show. 

“With many students selecting to finish the Fall 2020 semester from home after Thanksgiving Break, we knew Christmas on the Boulevard needed to be virtual this year,” Williamson said. “During the holidays, folks enjoy tradition, inspiration and those ‘feel good moments’ that transport you back to Christmases gone by. That’s why we wanted to feature some of our favorite moments from the past several years of Christmas on the Boulevard.” 

According to Williamson, pieces from the 2017, 2018 and 2019 shows will be featured, with the addition of the pre-recorded material from this year. 

There will be a variety of different musical groups featured.

“Several of our School of Music ensembles are featured in brand new recordings this year, including Vessel, E-41, Chamber Singers and our Woodwind Quintet,” Williamson said. “Most songs will be very familiar to listeners, but several of the arrangements bring a fresh spin to classics.”

Even though the show is not able to be in the format it is traditionally held in, Williamson emphasized that the students are simply grateful to be putting on the show, no matter if it is online or in-person. 

“The School of Music has innovated and demonstrated creativity in amazing ways,” Williamson said. “The celebration of the Christmas season is first and foremost about Jesus – Emmanuel, God with Us!”

One tradition that many students look forward to is the Virginia Christmas Spectacular, a Christmas show Thomas Road Baptist Church produces every year. This year would have marked the 50th anniversary of the show. Due to the coronavirus, the show was cancelled for this year, however, but plans for next year’s show are already underway, Scott Bullman, worship pastor at Thomas Road, said. 

“We’re going to press pause and celebrate 50 next year,” he said. 

In a normal year, the Spectacular is large — not only in size, but also in the number of people that it draws in. According to Bullman, the show involves 400 people, all from the church, and draws crowds of more than 25,000 people throughout the six shows held during the Christmas season. 

With the pandemic restrictions put on the maximum capacity for churches along with social distancing guidelines, Bullman said the church decided the safest option was to cancel this year’s show. 

“When May (2020) rolled around, and we were in the midst of the pandemic, we had to make the decision early, because we couldn’t risk investing that amount of money and then either the show be cancelled, or nobody come,” Bullman said. “It was the right decision.” 

The Thomas Road webpage already lists dates for the 2021 Spectacular. 

Jordan Smith is a News Reporter.

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