Mission Opera performs winter tunes from around the world  

Mission Opera Artistic and Executive Director Josh Wentz directs the ensemble of singers during their “Winter Holidays of the World” concert held at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Friday night. Katherine Quezada / The Signal
Mission Opera Artistic and Executive Director Josh Wentz directs the ensemble of singers during their “Winter Holidays of the World” concert held at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Friday night. Katherine Quezada / The Signal
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The Mission Opera took its audience on a worldwide tour of music celebrating all national winter holidays at the fourth annual “Winter Holidays of the World” concert at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church last week.  

The ensemble of about 15 vocalists opened the holiday concert with an African call-to-peace  performance and sung a variety of songs appreciating and paying homage to different cultures and winter holidays around the world.  

Hosted by Mission Opera Executive Director Josh Wentz, the ensemble was a mixture of professional Mission Opera company members, church choir volunteers, and student vocalists from California State University, Northridge, and Los Angeles Mission College. 

The one-and-a-half-hour performance paid homage to Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Russian New Year, Yalda Night and others.  

The concert was a mixture of live and virtual performances with footage that was used in previous years.  

Wentz, who founded Mission Opera, said that the “Holidays of the World” concept was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were bored at home during quarantine.  

From left: Jessie Massoudi and Shiela Shahbazi perform a duet from Shabe Yalda a celebration in Iranian Culture during the “Winter Holidays of the World” concert held at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Friday night. Katherine Quezada / The Signal
From left: Jessie Massoudi and Shiela Shahbazi perform a duet from Shabe Yalda a celebration in Iranian Culture during the “Winter Holidays of the World” concert held at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Friday night. Katherine Quezada / The Signal

“We really liked the idea of multiculturalism, especially bringing the world together when everybody felt so alone,” said Wentz. “It was a challenge that I made to like, learn new languages so we had this idea, and it just blew up.” 

Many people wanted to contribute by sharing their cultures and it developed into something that served to appreciate music, but also educated the performers and audience about different holidays they were not aware of yet that were important to different parts of the world.  

Ever since its debut, the “Holidays of the World” show has held its performances in both virtual and live mediums. 

Throughout the program, the vocalists would present information about each holiday’s significance and how it is celebrated in its country of origin before beginning the set performances.  

“It is such a blessing to gather together and to celebrate a variety of traditions to recognize that there are many ways in which we can celebrate, where we can bring light and we can remember the gifts of the season,” said Santa Clarita United Methodist Church Pastor Rachel Tabutol.  

About 50 audience members were present to show support to the ensemble of vocalists ranging from bass to sopranos. Some members had the chance to perform solos and duets throughout the performance.  

The collection of singers closed the show with a performance of “Silent Night” in various languages to end the night in the holiday spirit.  

Aurica Avonaires performs a solo to celebrate the Russian New Year at the “Winter Holidays of the World” concert held at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Friday night. Katherine Quezada / The Signal
Aurica Avonaires performs a solo to celebrate the Russian New Year at the “Winter Holidays of the World” concert held at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Friday night. Katherine Quezada / The Signal

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