As a result, reported the Wausau Daily Herald, choir directors have been limited to one sacred number for every five secular songs featured at Christmas and other concerts.
Phil Buch, the director of choral music at Wausau's West High School, said the decision prompted him to drop the Christmas program put on by his school's elite Master Singers choir and to temporarily disband the group until the issue is resolved.
Buch said that the district officials gave music teachers at all Wausau schools three options for their upcoming Christmas programs, which, like most schools, include a fair amount of sacred Christmas carols and other religious music. Teachers had the choice of selecting five secular songs for each religious song performed by the choirs, have a concert with no holiday music at all, or drop the December concerts entirely. Buch said that because the elite 20-member Master Singers group is invited to perform at a dozen or so events during the Christmas season, none of the options were acceptable to him.
“This group sings at Christmas programs,” Buch told the Wausau newspaper. “We sing for nursing homes, grade schools, and businesses. To do that without Christmas music doesn’t make sense.”
Wausau School Board President Michelle Schaefer insisted that the district directive is not meant to eliminate sacred music from the schools, but merely to prevent teachers from including “too much” religious fare. “From a School Board perspective, we look for music that is balanced,” Schaefer told the Daily Herald. “Yes, we are a predominantly Christian society, but we are also a society of many faiths, and we want to respect that.”
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