Concordia Christmas Concert makes in-person return

Throughout the weeks leading up to finals, the Concordia music department puts an additional obligation on its students. Various ensembles and groups are combined into one big Christmas concert for students, parents, professors, alumni and community members alike to enjoy. Concerts ran from Dec. 3 through Dec. 5 in Moorhead, Minnesota, with two more concerts in Minneapolis​​, Minnesota on Dec. 9.

This concert combines the college’s Kantorei Choir, Chapel Choir, the Concordia Choir, and the Concordia’s Orchestra for a yearly spectacle. This year’s theme: “…And Glory Shone Around.”

Though this is one of the most stressful times to be a student at Concordia, and a performer on top of that, students say the Christmas Concert is one of the highlights of the college’s music program. Students rehearse for up to four hours a day in the weeks leading up to the concert

Junior Isabel Aylin said, “I’m in the Concordia Choir, which has always been a big goal of mine, so it is really exciting to see all of this come into fruition. It is really exciting. I feel really close to the people I sing with. I feel like I am a part of a close-knit community, almost like a family support system.” 

Members of the Concordia Choir started working on the concert during a retreat back in September to pull off this concert.

“I chose Concordia for the choir program. It has all been worth it,” said Aylin. 

Junior Matthew Mortenson, also in the Concordia Choir, shared a different perspective. 

“Singing is something very personal and special to me. When all else fails, I have singing to keep me going. Being able to share music with others and bring joy to their lives through the vessel of singing is what drives me to keep doing what I’m doing. Am I stressed out of my mind? Yes! And am I exhausted? You know it. But the audience and sharing my music is what makes it worth it year after year,” said Mortenson.

Mortenson recalls Concordia Choir director Michael Culloton sharing a proverb that stuck with him since. Culloton said, “Sing this concert for the people who will be hearing this music for the first time, and people who will be hearing this music for the last time. We don’t know who’ll be out there – but make it special regardless.”

The week before finals week, all those involved in the concert will be headed to perform at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There, they will perform two shows and reach a further audience past the Fargo-Moorhead community. After the second performance, ending around 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, students will hop on a bus back to Moorhead so they can be back in time to get some rest before Friday’s classes; they are still students after all.

The Concordia Christmas Concert. | The Concordia Choir Facebook page

Hannah Hagen, a first year student, said that seeing the concert come together in both the music and visual elements has been her highlight of her experience so far. Hannah performs in the Kantorei Choir along with the other first-year students. 

A mural accompanies the music. Paul Johnson, its creator, said, “This mass of stained glass-like imagery is inspired by the song and hymn lyrics sung in this concert.” 

During different sections of the concert, fragments of the mural are illuminated to focus on the part of the story they were telling at the time. Sometimes the auditorium was lit only by a soft magenta glow. Other times, the whole auditorium shone with​ enough light for the audience to see their programs, to sing along. 

Along with the choir and orchestra, the handbell choir performs before the main concert. Annika Naser, senior handbell ringer, said, “it was a really good experience.”

For those who cannot attend a concert, or those who would like to relive it, the concert will be recorded. For more information, visit:

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