ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s our News 6 tradition, playing a variety of holiday songs performed by local students in lieu of the morning news on Christmas Day.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we haven’t been able to invite schools into our studios for the past couple of years.
This year, we’ve revamped our “Sounds of the Season” program, with 30 Central Florida schools participating. As your resident News 6 Insider Guide, I thought this would be the perfect time to get you in the holiday spirit, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how “Sounds of the Season” is produced.
“Christmas is my favorite holiday. Just seeing the lights, the people, it’s cheerful,” Damarys Mendoza said.
Mendoza is a senior who plays violin as part of Apopka High School’s orchestra.
“What I like about it is, that when I start playing the violin, I start to feel this connection with it. I get goosebumps and it’s the best part and makes me feel great,” Mendoza said.
Nearly 1,000 musicians and singers gathered at News 6 studios over the past few weeks performing the holiday classics.
“It’s a hobby and a passion. I enjoy music and making those sounds and passing it on to someone else,” Jahleel Walker said.
Walker, also a senior at Apopka High, plays the cello. He said he’s been preparing just as he would for a concert.
“It’s kind of the same with no audience,” Walker said. “I’m very excited to play in front of everyone and show what Apopka has to offer.”
So, what does it take to produce three hours of holiday musical programming?
News 6 production manager Bob Kotek and his production team spent months on logistics, setting up a recording schedule with school music directors. It took weeks to map out the studio for each performance, as well as to set up camera and audio equipment. The crew also spent more than 10 hours making the studio festive with holiday backdrops and props. (It’s gorgeous! Many of our talent have taken holiday pictures using the “Sounds of the Season” setup as their backdrop.)
When schools arrive, Kotek gives each group a pep talk.
“I know you all are talented musicians, but this is a festive holiday taping so feel free to smile. You don’t have to be so serious. Have fun. Behind me are six cameras, so you never know when you’ll be in the shot,” Kotek said to each group.
News 6 photographers man the cameras in-studio, while directors outside the studio are pushing the buttons in the booth and making sure performances are shown from every angle.
You don’t have to wait for Christmas Day to see our "Sounds of the Season" performances. You can watch all the performances on demand with News 6+.
It’s available on most smart TVs and streaming devices. Just search “News 6+” in your smart TV’s app store. Once you’re in, scroll down to “sounds of the season” category and you’ll see that each performance is clipped by school and song. Once you start watching one clip, you can let the playlist continue and listen to all of the performances.
“Coming here is a great opportunity for us to play and show our talent,” Mendoza said. “To see other schools and other people play, you get to see other songs and compare.”
After “Sounds of the Season” is taped and produced, it takes about 40 hours of editing to complete the program. (So worth it!)
You can catch the 3-hour program on News 6 on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
Check out every episode of Riff On This in the media player below: