Concordia Christmas Concert continues Reformation theme

Dr. Clausen rehearses with the choirs and orchestra. Photo by Bailey Hovland.

This week, 400 Cobber musicians, 176 feet of elaborate art, and a 91-year music tradition will all come together to create the Concordia Christmas Concert.

The 2017 Concordia Christmas Concert, “From Heaven Above–To Earth He Comes,” will be performed in Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 1, 2, and 3 with shows at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 2 and shows at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 and 3. The concert will also be performed at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on Dec. 7 with shows at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Dr. Rene Clausen, conductor of the Concordia Choir and artistic director of the Christmas Concert, works with an artistic team of five people to develop a new theme for the concerts each year. As with other 2017 Concordia productions, this year’s Christmas Concert theme references the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Clausen explained in an email that the theme of this year’s concert, “From Heaven Above–To Earth He Comes,” is a variation on the hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” composed by Martin Luther.

“It seemed appropriate to choose a theme that has a Luther connection,” Clausen said.
In order to make every performance run as smoothly as possible and convey the message of Christmas, countless hours of rehearsals and behind-the-scenes logistics are poured into the months and weeks leading up to the concerts.
Gordon Moe, manager of choral ensembles and a 1988 Cobber alum, plays a large role in organizing the concerts and communicating between the five choirs involved–the Concordia Choir, Chapel Choir, Cantabile, and Kantorei–as well as the Concordia Orchestra.

“I am a facilitator between many different parties on campus. Between the artists and the carpenters, the musicians, the faculty, the box office to the lighting. I don’t do all those things, but I work with all of them,” Moe said.
While the work involved heightens as the performances near, planning begins months earlier, when Christmas is far from most people’s minds.

“As Artistic Director, I, in consultation with the Artistic Team, develop the concert theme and choose music. We meet together in the summer, when most of the planning of the Christmas Concert is accomplished,” Clausen said.
For some students, the Christmas Concerts and the choral program as a whole were the reason they chose to attend Concordia. Sophomore Nick Malisani, a member of the Concordia Choir, explained that he was torn between Concordia and another school until he saw the Christmas Concert in Minneapolis.

“It was really a moving experience, the music was well done, it was very well programmed. You could just see the tradition and how seriously people took choir,” he said.

The same is true for sophomore Meggan Smith, a member Cantabile, the all-women’s choir.

“Two years ago when I toured Concordia, my parents and I got invited to this VIP thing [for the Christmas Concert], and we’re from Montana, and so we were like, ‘We’ll go, it’ll be fun.’ And it was just so awesome and absolutely amazing. So we got home and I was like, ‘So why can’t I go here?’” she said.

Clausen hopes that everyone who attends or participates in this year’s concert will leave with a sense of peace and community.

“Our hope is that both the participants and the audiences we perform for will be inspired by not only beautiful music celebrating the coming of Christ into our world, but also experience a sense of joy, peace, and community that happens when we experience art and beauty it lifts us, if just for a while, to a higher plane of existence,” he said.

Tickets for Moorhead are $19 each, and Orchestra Hall tickets range from $21-$32. They can be ordered online, by phone, by mail, or in person at the Concordia box office. Concordia students receive one free ticket with student ID.

Additional information, tickets, and schedules can be found at

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