'Tis the season for caroling -- and Upper Arlington High School students will be knocking on local doors soon to sing seasonal favorites in their first Caroling Canvass.
Students in Charles Dickens-era attire will roam Upper Arlington neighborhoods from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, to "sing for their supper" with a medley of secular songs of the season.
Director Eric Kauffman said the caroling event gives choir students a chance to spread the news about future performances and to connect with the community.
"Although we have canvassed for several years now, this will be the first year for the Caroling Canvass," he said. "We are not looking at it as Christmas caroling in order to be sensitive to all of our community members.
"We have chosen a more secular carol, Deck the Halls, and we're singing only the first and third verses, which are the most recognizable and yet the most secular," he said. "Of course, everyone knows the familiar fa-la-la-la-la refrain."
Kauffman said the event is not really viewed as a fundraiser.
"Many folks give us donations and we gladly accept them and they certainly help defer the overwhelming expenses associated with doing the professional level of performances the community has grown accustomed to," he said.
He said the 300-plus vocal music students all will be involved in the event as much as possible.
"They will be assigned to neighborhoods in groups of four, with two members singing the melody and two members singing the harmony part," he said. "As they sing the two verses, which will take about 40 seconds, they will hand the community members a copy of our performance calendar for the rest of the year, as well as a note that says donations to our program are gladly accepted."
Kauffman said the Caroling Canvass is a great opportunity for students to share their talents with the community.
"I hope people will put our future events on their calendars and come see us," he said.
One of the group's major events will be "St. Francis in the Americas: A Caribbean Mass."
The free concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, in the Upper Arlington High School auditorium, 1650 Ridgeview Road.
"We have created quite a tradition of doing major works here during my tenure and this is something I am very proud of," he said. "Our goal is to broaden the students' experiences within choral music and let them discover the many different genres that make up vocal music."
He said the Caribbean Mass is "very unique and intriguing in its construct."
"I have been calling it a 21st-century Mass setting that would have made St. Francis proud," he said. "St. Francis was such a humanitarian with a big-picture mentality that was well ahead of his time. He tried to bring the world's cultures together.
"That is exactly what Glenn McClure, the composer, has done with his Mass setting," Kauffman said. "He has used some traditional Mass texts along with some writings of St. Francis, which find our high school singers learning Latin, Greek, Spanish and a lot of Italian."
Kauffman said McClure designed the work using nontraditional instrumentation, including steel drums and a variety of other percussion instruments in order to create the Latin feel of the music of the Caribbean Mass.
He said the percussion ensemble from Capital University will perform the steel drum and percussion music, directed by Nate Anders.
Kauffman said the majority of the vocal music department's concerts are free.
"We only charge admission for the concerts that have larger production budgets," he said. "However, by the time this production is completed, we will spend close to $5,000 to give the kids and the community this tremendous educational opportunity."
He said vocal music boosters always find a way to "fund my crazy ideas."
"We could not accomplish these extraordinary musical endeavors without a strong and supportive organization like the vocal music boosters," he said. "Our teamwork is so refreshing and one of the main reasons I think a community like UA has such a rich tradition of excellence."