This holiday show has all the things you could hope for in one big, festive bash.

First Pres’ annual “Christmas Joy!” is back after being canceled last year due to the pandemic. The roster of performers is stacked with the 140-person First Pres choir, soloists Alvy Powell, Donald Robinson and Jamal Sarikoki, 60-piece symphony orchestra, 17-piece big band, hand bell ensembles Pikes Peak Ringers and Forte, Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, Celtic Mountain Band, Celtic Steps Dancers and Denver’s Ciorcal Cairde Irish Pipes and Drums.

There are two shows Sunday at Pikes Peak Center.

“It is a treasured thing,” said conductor Jim DeJarnette, First Pres’ former minister of worship and music. “We feel so thrilled to be able to do this this year. It is a collaborative effort on part of some of the most wonderful organizations in our community.”

This year is even more special for DeJarnette — it’s his last performance with the church after retiring last month after almost four decades. The holiday concert, which first took place at First Pres, moved to the Pikes Peak Center in the late 1980s. DeJarnette likes to use the event to impart a timely message to audiences.

“We can all identify enormous challenges in our personal lives and national lives. For most of us, it’s been COVID-related,” DeJarnette said. “But no matter what has happened, all is well because Christ is born. Our message is for those who have gotten to the point where they can’t find a way forward, and feel hope has been lost.”

Powell, a well-known bass-baritone opera singer and former member of the U.S. Army Chorus, has performed in the Christmas show for years. Mostly known for his starring role as Porgy in the George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess,” he’s also sung for seven U.S. presidents.

This year he’ll sing the spiritual “Sister Mary Had But One Child,” as well as “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and “Amazing Grace.”

“He’s extraordinary at singing spirituals,” DeJarnette said.

And DeJarnette will debut his latest original Christmas carol, written in honor of his latest grandchild, who was born last year. Over the years, the conductor has written a carol to celebrate each of his six grandchildren, and performed them during the holiday show.

Baritone soloist Sarikoki, who also is taking over as the new lead of sanctuary music at First Pres in the wake of DeJarnette’s retirement, will premiere the new carol “Our Family was Born on Christmas Night.” It’s based on First Pres pastor Tim McConnell’s advent series called “Family of God.”

“The idea of the sermon series is there is a place in the family for all of us,” DeJarnette said. “It occurred to me in the greater family of faith, that family was born on Christmas night when Christ was born. That’s what makes us a family.”

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

comments powered by Disqus