Music News & Reviews

Kids in Koncert earns rare honor

At the Capitol holiday tree-lighting ceremony, Capital Playhouse's Kids in Koncert will be singing a different tune.

The group of singers ages 8-18 will sing the world premiere of “Christmas Lights,” written by Academy Award-winning composer Al Kasha.

“I listened to the song, and I thought, ‘This is an instant hit,’” said Troy Arnold Fisher, the choir director and playhouse’s musical director. “This is a Christmas classic already.”

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful song,” said playhouse artistic director Jeff Kingsbury. “It’s really fun for the kids.”

While on a trip to Disneyland in 2007, the choir met with Kasha for a songwriting workshop. Among the many highlights of the composer’s long career are two Academy Awards for Best Song — one for “The Morning After” from “The Poseidon Adventure” and another for “We May Never Love Like This Again” from “The Towering Inferno.”

“We were performing a piece of music of his, ‘Candle on the Water,’ which is from ‘Pete’s Dragon,’” Fisher said. “It happened to be his 70th birthday, and I asked him as a birthday present could we sing one of his compositions, and we sang it for him.”

But it came as a surprise when Kasha sent Fisher the music for “Christmas Lights,” written with Paul Duncan.

“He said, ‘I was thinking about how beautiful your kids sounded when they sang, and I would be honored if you’d premiere it,’” Fisher said. “It’s not every day that an Academy Award-winning composer sends a song. I was just flabbergasted.”

It has been a good year for Kids in Koncert. A subgroup of the choir, the doo-wop group Troyz Boyz, won the audience choice award at in TCTV’s recent “Show Off” talent competition. In the spring, the choir will travel to France to perform.

“We’re so lucky to have a group of that caliber,” Kingsbury said of the choir, which has 38 singers this year and doesn’t require auditions. “They really are exceptional.”

Fisher is thrilled not only that his choir is debuting the song, but also that he was chosen to arrange it.

“That was exciting and kind of scary at the same time,” he said. “It felt like doing a college project. I would write part of the arrangement, and we would record it, and then we’d send a recording in an MP3 file to Al and Paul, and they would ask for something to be changed or tweaked.

“I think we ended up with a really good arrangement,” he said, adding, “It’s been really fun. Al Kasha is the sweetest man. It was fun to be on the phone with him and get e-mails.

“It was really exciting for the kids.”