Columbus City Band ushering in the season on Sunday

New Columbus City Band Director Paige Chadwick loves Christmas music — and seems in harmony with humor about the matter.

“I don’t think I really have a choice,” she said with a laugh about her affection.

The 27-year-old leader following in the footsteps of now-retired Steve McGrew, who lead the ensemble for 27 years, will be the first area musician to publicly usher in the sounds of the season at 2 p.m. Sunday. The 60-member group will present a 75-minute free performance “Songs of the Season and Christmas Classics” at The Commons.

The band’s season-opening concert in October attracted about 300 people. And Chadwick and Karen Stonehill, the band’s associate director, are determined to build more relationships with music aficionados in order to see larger crowds.

Chadwick is hoping the 10-song program they have assembled will be a draw for new listeners and attendees.

The mix includes traditional numbers such as Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “Frosty the Snowman” by Steve Nelson and Walter Rollins. A 16th Century medieval praise number, “Gaudete,” will be featured. British folk rock group Steeleye Span had a hit in 1973 with an a cappella recording of the song.

“It has a similar sound as ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’” she said.

The concert also will include a touch of Dixieland jazz with a hybrid of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Up on the Housetop.” Plus, she is including a medley from John Williams’ soundtrack for “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” That might be the director’s favorite works on the program.

“They might not be something you’ll immediately remember right offhand,” she said. “But a lot of us, when we went through it the first time, thought ‘Oh yeah — that’s been buried in the back of my mind somewhere ever since I saw the movie.’”

Chadwick retains a huge respect for McGrew, and she feels she’s retaining some of his approach to the band.

“But I also am definitely bringing in a little more challenging material,” she said. “And so far, the musicians are down for it. So far, no one’s upset about it.”

Like McGrew, Chadwick is a teacher, working by day as director of bands at Jennings County High School and Jennings County Middle School. To help Sunday’s crowd get into the spirit of the season, band members, known for their exuberance and fun linked to the holiday, expect to be decked out in Santa hats and anything else in tune with the yuletide.

“Oh, yeah,” Chawick said. “We’ll definitely have our flare.”

About the concert

Who: The Columbus City Band’s annual holiday concert, “Songs of the Season and Christmas Classics.”

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

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

Information: Facebook page for Columbus City Band.