The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Academy of the Arts will present two winter concerts in December — one featuring choral groups, the other a symphonic orchestra — to get local residents into the holiday spirit.

The concerts will both take place at Breedlove Auditorium and will showcase a slew of endearing Christmas tunes.

The performances are part of the Academy of the Arts’ On Stage series, which includes productions such as "Disney’s Aladdin KIDS," "The Little Mermaid JR" and "Shrek the Musical." The On Stage series has a total of 12 events featuring young and seasoned performers in musical and theatrical productions.

Dec. 6: Children’s Choir Winter Concert

The Children’s Choir will hold a winter concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Breedlove Auditorium on the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus, a show featuring both a show choir, which dances in addition to singing, and a children’s choir.

Five local satellite schools — Ballman Elementary, Barling Elementary, Morrison Elementary, Fairview Elementary and Arkoma Elementary — will have students participating in the concert in addition to on-campus Academy students, with each of the schools singing an individual song before coming together and singing a medley to end the performance.

Approximately 170 students will participate in the show, and Gini Law of Fort Smith, director of the show choir, said the choirs are "looking forward to singing" at the concert. "We are very excited for this show," she said. "We are doing a big medley of Christmas music. The combined choirs will do a few songs together, and then each school will do one or two songs by themselves."

Law said they might have some "choralography" in the concert.

"It’s basically hand motions, but no dancing," she said. "The kids really respond to this type of singing and moving because it helps them to remember the words." Law said the show choir will sing "Catch that Santa," a playful song about trying to catch Santa Claus as he delivers gifts.

"The kids really love it, and we’re going to have a great time performing it," she said. "We have some amazingly talented kids this year, and I can’t wait to see what all they can do." Brooke Bates of Fort Smith, choir instructor and administrative specialist at the Academy of the Arts, said preparing the children’s choir for the concert can be "a little challenging," but that she has been impressed with how quickly the students have learned the material.

"We typically only have one rehearsal with all of the students together before the concert, so it has its challenges," she said. "But the kids are like sponges. They absorb everything. They’re able to pick up exactly what we give to them, and they do it because it’s fun."

Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. For tickets, contact the UAFS Box Office at 479-788-7300 or visit For more information on the Academy, call 479-788-7253.

Dec. 16: Youth Honor Symphony Orchestra Concert

The Youth Honor Symphony Orchestra concert will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Breedlove Auditorium on the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus and feature approximately 40 students between the ages of 14 and 21 playing a mixture of classical and upbeat Christmas numbers.

Dan Mays of Fort Smith, director of the orchestra, said they will play songs such as "A Christmas Festival" by Leroy Anderson — an orchestra arrangement including popular Christmas carols such as "Joy to the World" and "Silent Night" — as well as a full orchestra arrangement of "White Christmas."

"Every year, as the orchestra develops, we can play more difficult music, and with some collaboration with the college, we’re able to use some talented players from the University to help us out," Mays said. "The level of musicianship and the level of music we can play have advanced quite a bit in the past two years."

Mays said the strength of the orchestra lies in its size.

"It’s a smaller group, so the kids don’t get lost in the fold of a huge symphony orchestra," he said. "The students still get attention during sectionals when instructors work with them one-on-one, and the age diversity in the group gives younger students a chance to play with very high-level high school and college students."

Tickets to the symphony orchestra concert are $6. For tickets, contact the UAFS Box Office at 479-788-7300 or visit For more information on the Academy, call 479-788-7253.