Concordia Christmas Concerts sing of celebration

A bell will chime three times on Friday evening in Memorial Auditorium to mark the start of this year’s Concordia Christmas Concerts.

Friday, December 6 at 7:30 PM marks the first performance of this year’s Christmas Concerts. This year’s theme is “My Spirit Sings.” Concordia’s choirs and orchestra will come together to perform the event.

It’s always very enjoyable to rehearse for the Christmas Concerts, but this being Dr. Clausen’s final Christmas Concerts has made it very special. The choirs and orchestra are working hard, and their work will pay-off when we present the concert for thousands of people in a few short weeks,” Dr. Culloton said of the work that has been put in to prepare for this year’s concerts.

The process of choosing the theme starts with Dr. Clausen, but it doesn’t end there.

“There is the choosing of the theme, which traditionally has been my responsibility–but then the process expands to include the many people who bring their talents to the actual creation of the concert.  This includes all of the conductors, our mural artist and lighting director, together with the choir manager and other members of the creative team,” Dr. Clausen said.

The choirs spend many hours preparing for the concerts every year during their own rehearsal times and as a large group once a week starting in November. Kailee Vigen, a first year student in Cantabile, mentioned that preparing for these concerts has been a very different experience from choir rehearsals she has had in the past.

“We’ve already had a lot of rehearsals and put a lot of time in. It’s interesting. It’s different from what I was used to in high school. I love it so much,” Vigen said.

Mass choir rehearsal. Courtesy of Concordia College.

Senior Concordia Choir member Sally Nelson mentioned that although students dedicate a lot of time to rehearsals, especially in the weeks leading up to the concerts, the payoff is worth it in the end.

“Mass choir rehearsals have been once a week for an hour and a half since the beginning of November. As the concerts get closer, we go into nightly run-throughs of the concert. It is a lot of time to dedicate, but the payoff is so awesome that it is super worth it! I love the mass rehearsals with the choirs and orchestra that let us hear how great the Christmas concerts will be. Overall, it’s such a rewarding experience,” Nelson said.

An experience in the audience at the Christmas concert is never the same, even though there are similarities in each concert. The audience will have the opportunity to join in with the orchestra and choirs in singing familiar Christmas hymns, as in past years. 

Dr. Culloton mentioned that the audience can also expect “expressive singing and a wide variety of literature. We’ve got pieces that include soloists, both vocal and instrumental, as well as some additional percussion players, so I think the different ‘textures’ of the pieces will make them very enjoyable.”

“With the theme, “My Spirit Sings” there will be a great deal of joyful, celebratory music. The mural and its lighting will be a highlight, particularly in the radiant and joyful images created by our mural artist Paul Johnson and creatively lit by Bryan Duncan,” Clausen added.

This year’s concerts are Dr. Clausen’s last Christmas Concerts as artistic director of the Christmas Concerts and conductor of the Concordia Choir, as he is retiring at the end of the academic year after 33 years as a faculty member at Concordia.

“The opportunities I have had to work with many generations of outstanding student musicians, who in addition to being fine musicians have been wonderful young people – I have much gratitude for their positive impact on my life.  Equally important has been the enormous opportunity and good fortune I have had in working with so many gifted faculty conductors and professional colleagues over the span of more than three decades. It is truly a team that constructs and develops the Christmas Concert every year,” Clausen said, reflecting on his tenure at Concordia.

As a senior, this year’s concerts are also special to Nelson, who had some advice for students who are already in one of the four choirs on campus or are considering joining a choir.

“Being in a choir at Concordia can seem really daunting and competitive, but rather than letting that take control of your experience, really focus on making a community with the people around you. Some of my best friends have been in choir with me for my 4 years at Concordia! You might meet some of your best friends too,” she said.

The Christmas concerts are Friday, December 6 at 7:30PM, Saturday, December 7 at 2PM and 7:30PM, and Sunday, December 8 at 2PM in Memorial Auditorium. Students receive a free ticket to the Christmas concerts and can reserve them at ConcordiaChristmas.com.

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