Holiday Song Created by Chico State Students to be Performed for First Time at "Glorious Sounds of the Season!"

Publicity Photo

Chico State student John Klezmer sings "Holidays Are Here Again" during recent video shoot.

Lead by Professor Roger Gisborne, students from CSU, Chico’s Department of Music and Theatre have created an original song — “Holidays Are Here Again.” The song will be performed in public for the first time during the annual Glorious Sounds of the Season! concert, Dec. 4-6 in Harlen Adams Theatre.

“It basically all came together after my songwriting class composed and produced the ‘Chico State Theme Song,’” said Gisborne, who commutes to Chico from Los Angeles where he runs a number of music industry businesses. “At that point I realized we had some very talented melody writers and lyricists right here at CSU, Chico.”

After speaking with Dr. Brad Martin, the new Chair of the Music and Theatre Department, and Recording Arts Professor Alek Palmersmith, Gisborne created the Chico State Songwriters Collective.

“At about the same time that we were working on the Chico State theme song, my Los Angeles publishing execs at Downtown Music inquired about original holiday songs,” said Gisborne, “and it made sense to see what we could do up here.”

Chico State student Corey Walles, who interned last summer at one of Gisborne’s studios, lent a hand on the music side.

Gisborne said the goal was to compose a new original holiday song that would have a memorable, timeless, classic holiday feel coupled with lyrics that conveyed a feeling of “coming home for the holidays.”

He enlisted the help of other students, including John Klezmer — a talented vocalist and up-and-coming songwriter who is a two-time winner of Chico Unplugged — and featured background vocalist Octavia Chandler. Other major participants in the project included Harrison "Polo" Hedriana, Jake Shenkman, Raphael Diaz (video director) and Recording Arts Professor Dann Sargent.

A “sketch pad” piano demo was created with the decision that the Christmas elements of the song – chimes, sleighbells, etc. — would be added in a later stage of the production cycle.

Lyrics came from a collaboration of several people in the Collective and were sung by Klezmer, recorded by CSU, Chico recording arts students, and then sent down to one of Gisborne’s Los Angeles studios for finessing.

As the song was being mixed, Gisborne, with assistance from students in School of the Arts Productions, set up and shot a music video for "Holidays Are Here Again." The video will serve as an internet distributed holiday greeting card from various entities at Chico State. The video includes 50 music and theater students dressed in holiday attire and a full band. Interns from one of Gisborne’s businesses, Sound x 3, helped with the production of the video once it was shot.

“I think the lyrics are unique as they convey a feeling about the holidays in general,” Gisborne said. “Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukah or just celebration of the season. The arrangement is clever as it starts out as piano song on the slower side and then we kick into a full time jazz swing halfway through, which really picks up the festive spirit as the song builds.”

Creating “Holidays Are Here Again” has been a stepping-stone for the CSU, Chico Music and Theatre Department.

“By working directly with the students and putting them into real life collaborative writing sessions, that one would encounter in the music industry, they are inspired to jump to new levels that they might not ever achieve otherwise,” said Gisborne.

Gisborne is currently teaching “The Four Phases of Modern Composition and Song Crafting” at CSU, Chico. This course is designed to teach students all of the techniques and methods used currently in the music production field.

Gisborne, along with his wife Anita Rivas, a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and music copyright expert, who also teaches part-time at Chico State, have brought a unique “real world” dimension to the CSU, Chico Music and Theatre Department.

By being direct conduits to the music industry — along with their professional relationships with Los Angeles producers — “we hope to offer more opportunities to our students and the school,” said Gisborne.

In the near future “Holidays Are Here Again” will be available on all the major streaming services worldwide.


Glorious Sounds of the Season! Presented Dec. 4th-6th