Sure, it probably sounds simple. And for many, it’s as common as “Deck the Halls” this time of year.

But Columbus City Band’s Dick Parman swears that the percussion for most arrangements of the classic “Christmastime is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” can be as complex as Charlie’s holiday depression.

“That triangle part actually is very challenging,” said Parman, the veteran trombonist functioning as a percussionist for the city band’s annual holiday concert, “Sounds of the Season,” at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Commons. “And it’s a central part of the sound of that song, and it works when it’s all packaged together.”

The 50-plus-member volunteer ensemble promises an afternoon as lively as the Peanuts gang.

The band attracted more than 600 people to last year’s Christmas gathering.

Sunday’s free event will feature elements of Christmas in such pieces as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker March,” arranged by Reddington resident and former longtime city band director Les Gilkey, still active in music in his 90s.

The ensemble has featured his arrangements at least once or twice each season in recent years.

“It’s always special when we perform something that he has transcribed,” city band director Steve McGrew said.

The leader since 1996 has assembled a lineup stuffed with treasures as varied as those in the finest yuletide stocking.

“Everybody seems to love the old German carols,” McGrew said. “And I do, too. But I frequently also like to have something that describes Christmas in a slightly different style.”

For instance, McGrew mentioned that Sergei Prokiev’s “Midnight Sleighride” serves as an excellent example on the set list.

“It instrumentally describes a team of horses pulling a sleigh through the countryside,” McGrew said, ranging from jingling bells to the clippity-clop of horse hooves courtesy of Parman manning the wood blocks.

The jazzy, Spanish “Fum Fum Fum,” popularized by contemporary seasonal group Mannheim Steamroller, has become a city band favorite, featured during two of the past three holiday performances.

“If I don’t initially put it on the program,” McGrew said, “one of the musicians will ask for it.”

And the program also will include two Jewish-based works, “A Hannukah Festival” and “The Eighth Candle”.

“I know that many people think of this as our Christmas concert, but it is so much more than that,” Parman said. “We want to do what we can to include everyone and make everyone feel comfortable during the holidays. We want this to reflect all types of holiday music.”

Making the season bright

What: The all-volunteer Columbus City Band performing its annual Christmas concert, “Sounds of the Season.”

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus.

Admission: Free.

Tunes: From Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker March,” arranged by former city band leader Les Gilkey, to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “An Irving Berlin Christmas.”

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.