The Update | Carols and Cocoa Returns; Drive-by Light Display Loops Revealed

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The annual Carols and Cocoa and Dana Holiday Concert will take place Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Stambaugh Auditorium.

The concert is a Youngstown State University tradition that dates back more than 40 years and involves most of the vocal and instrumental music students in the Dana School of Music.

Festivities begin at 7 p.m. with carols in the ballroom at Stambaugh. Cocoa will be available in the concert hall lobby during intermission while the audience moves from the ballroom to the concert hall for the Dana Holiday Concert.

Ensembles participating in the concert include the YSU trombone ensemble and flute ensemble, Dana clarinet ensemble and brass quintet, YSU jazz ensemble, Voices of YSU, Dana Chorale, Dana String Orchestra and Dana Symphony Orchestra.

The grand finale of the concert will be a choral-orchestral rendition of “Many Moods of Christmas,” arranged by Robert Shaw and R. R. Bennett. The Dana Symphony Orchestra and Dana Festival Symphonic Chorus will be joined by all choral ensembles for this piece.

Participating in the concert this year will be the Hickory High School Chamber Singers, the Fitch High School Concert Choir and the Stambaugh Chorus.

Tickets are $7 ($6 for seniors, YSU students, faculty, staff, students and alumni) and can be purchased in advance at or by calling 330 259 9651.

Drive-by Christmas Light Display Loops

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley’s best residential Christmas light displays can be viewed by following the self-guided tours compiled by two charitable groups.

Five drive-by loops, featuring over 130 locations, have been mapped out by Spanning the Need and 330ToGO.

To find a printable PDF of the loops and links to maps, click HERE.

Anthony Spano of Spanning the Need said the Christmas Loops serve a purpose. “During these times, it’s essential to find joy and connection, and what better way than by sharing in the festive spirit of our neighbors,” he said in a press release.

Jessica Bader of 330ToGo said the loops provide a way for people to come together and celebrate the holidays. “We hope this initiative brings joy to residents and showcases the creativity and spirit of the season,” she said.

Smarts to Unveil Library at Open House

YOUNGSTOWN – Smarts (Students Motivated by the Arts) has set its annual holiday open house for Tuesday, Dec. 5, from noon to 6 p.m.

The event will include a ribbon-cutting for its new Richard James Hanson Library at 3 p.m.

The family event is free and open to the public. Smarts, a community arts school for children, is located on the ground floor of the Ohio One Building, 25 E. Boardman St., downtown.

Several of Smarts’ teaching artists and staff will demonstrate their talents at the event, and there will be hands-on arts activities for children and light refreshments by Chef Christopher Bonacci.

The family of the late Richard James Hanson donated his collection of artbooks, many of which are not available on loan in the area, as the basis of the library.

It is organized and cataloged into a digital library system.

For information about the open house, contact Becky Keck, Smarts president, at

Grove City College Christmas Concerts

GROVE CITY, Pa. – Grove City College will celebrate Christmas with a week of free concerts featuring nearly every ensemble on campus. Many will be livestreamed at

The concerts will begin Sunday, Dec. 3, with “Gloria!” at 4:30 p.m. in Harbison Chapel, featuring the College Concert Choir, Touring Choir and Chamber Singers.

Christmas concerts will also take place at noon daily at Carnegie Alumni Center. Here is the schedule:

  • Dec. 4: Various vocalists.
  • Dec. 5: Gallery Brass and Grove City College Singers.
  • Dec. 6: String quartet.
  • Dec. 7: Saxophone quintet, trumpet ensemble and Revelation Ringers.
  • Dec. 8: Touring choir.

Also on Dec. 8, the music department will present “A Musical Christmas at Grove City College” at 7:30 p.m. in Ketler Auditorium of the Pew Fine Arts Center. The concert will feature the Concert Choir, GCC Singers, Jazz Ensemble, Stage Band, Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra.

On Sunday, Dec. 10, the college’s Office of Christian Formation will hold its annual Christmas Candlelight Service at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. in Harbison Chapel. The service will feature the Christmas liturgy, favorite hymns and stirring music, and will culminate in the passing of candlelight throughout the chapel.

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ at St. Columba

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Diocese of Youngstown will present special musical events for the Christmas season at St. Columba Cathedral.

On Monday, Dec. 4, music directors from the diocese will partner with the Warren Civic Chorus to present Handel’s “Messiah” at 7 p.m. A reception in the cathedral hall will follow the 90-minute concert. Admission is free, but a freewill offering will be accepted for Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

On Sunday, Dec. 10, the St. Columba Cathedral musicians will present the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols at 6 p.m. This year, the program will include the “O Antiphons” setting by Peter Hallock, along with many other musical anthems and hymns. The “O Antiphons” are an Advent prayer tradition, naming various titles ascribed to Jesus in preparation for the Christmas celebration. Admission is free, but a freewill offering will benefit the cathedral’s music program.

Security will be provided for both concerts, and ample parking will be available.

Auditions for ‘Love/Sick’ at Playhouse

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Auditions for the Youngstown Playhouse’s production of “Love/Sick” will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, from noon to 2 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the theater.

“Love/Sick,” by John Cariani, is a collection of nine twisted and hilarious short plays about the joys and pains of being in love.

There are 18 roles available. The director is seeking nine males and nine females over age 18. All ethnicities are encouraged to participate. The director welcomes nonbinary and neurodivergent individuals to audition. The goal is to cast a diverse range of couples to better showcase a wider range of what love looks like.

The director is Rosalyn Blystone. There will be a first read through Dec. 18. Rehearsals will tentatively begin in early January. Performances will take place Feb. 9-11 and 16-18 in the Moyer Room at the Youngstown Playhouse.

More information is available HERE.

Pictured at top: A scene from last year’s Dana Holiday Concert at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.