Putting Words To Music: SoNA Singers love annual holiday performance

Putting Words To Music: SoNA Singers love annual holiday performance

Their day jobs are different — some in music, many not — but their reasons for giving time and effort to the SoNA Singers are much the same.

“I do it for the fun of it all,” says Mike Upton, who has been with the group since its founding a decade ago. “[And] I have the amazing opportunity to sing behind an immensely talented symphony.”

“I continue to come back to SoNA Singers each season for the pure joy of singing with other accomplished singers,” says Amy Locke, who is also one of the founding members of the chorus. “I’m now in a non-musical role in education, and SoNA Singers has become one of the few places I can pursue choral music. It is a much needed outlet for an incredibly important part of my life.”

“I love the opportunity to make music with others,” says Jim Bob Loyd, who is a choral director at George and Lakeside junior high schools in Springdale. “There is a group of us in the Singers that are very close and have known each other for a very long time, and because of covid we haven’t gotten to spend much time together. This season, this concert, we get to be together again as a family.”

The SoNA Singers, under the direction of Terry Hicks, will be joining the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas on stage Dec. 4 for two performances titled “A Very SoNA Christmas.” Paul Haas, music director of the orchestra, calls the event “a tradition like none other, showcasing some of the finest talent in the region.”

“Northwest Arkansas is so much more than a collection of cities and towns,” Haas adds. “It really is an organic and beautiful coming together of people from all walks of life, and our Christmas concert mirrors that coming together with an extraordinary blend of traditional and pops programming.”

Logistically, “I prepare the SoNA singers to work with Paul Haas,” explains Hicks. “To do this, I organize the choir itself by auditioning new singers and balancing the chorus, organize the rehearsal schedule, distribute/collect the music used, and conduct each of the rehearsals.”

Emotionally, “I love to see the effect holiday music has on the audience,” he adds. “It truly is magical and beautiful to see the smiling faces during and after the performances.”

Where the singers have differing opinions is when asked the Christmas song they most enjoy singing.

“The Hallelujah Chorus is always fun to blow the roof off the Walton Arts Center,” says Elizabeth Bainbridge, who is the chorus manager. “Terry also usually selects at least one a cappella song for us to sing, which really reveals our skills as singers and his great skill at drawing out sentimentality in us.”

“This year, a new piece has been added to the holiday program that really speaks to me,” says Locke. “Its performance will feel more like a personal gift to the audience, because I’ve loved it for years and because we will perform it a cappella. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, so I won’t name the piece, but this particular arrangement is new to me and I can’t wait to share it.”

“Every SoNA Christmas concert that I’ve been a part of has opened with John Rutter’s ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful,’” concludes Loyd. “And I hope that everyone there that missed having us as a part of their holidays last year will hear it and feel how much that we have missed them as well.”



A Very SoNA Christmas

With The SoNA Singers

WHEN — 2 & 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $35, $45, $57

INFO — sonamusic.org or 443-5600



‘The Snowman: A Family Concert’

SoNA will once again present its popular screening of the award-winning film “The Snowman” with live orchestral accompaniment.

WHEN — 2 p.m. Dec. 12

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $10

INFO — sonamusic.org or 443-5600

Categories: Music