Northwestern’s A cappella and Women’s Choirs, Brass Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra will be presenting the campus and the community with the Christmas Vespers concerts on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m. in Christ Chapel. Admission is free, and all are invited to attend and enjoy in this annual Christmas tradition.
Christmas Vespers, a concert celebrating the Christmas story, has been taking place at NW for decades. Happening every year on the first weekend following Thanksgiving break, the concert provides an excellent kick-off for the Christmas season. This year’s concert theme is “Gloria.”
The concert is considered an audience favorite. Members of the audience will not only get the chance to witness beautiful choral arrangements but will also get to be a part of them. Several well-known carols will be sung, and the audience is encouraged to participate.
“I think what I enjoy most about Christmas Vespers is celebrating the Christmas story with students, with faculty and with a larger audience from the community,” Dr. Thomas Holm, director of the A cappella choir said. “The Christmas story is fundamental to who we are as Christians, and there is a great joy in inviting the audience to participate in that story with us in a musical way.”
Rev. John Hubers, who now serves as a professor in NW’s religion department, was a member of the A cappella choir while a student at NW in the 1970’s. During that time, the choir focused all their time on preparing for their spring tour and did not get the chance to give a Christmas concert.
“I love the idea of Christmas Vespers,” Rev. Hubers said. “Christmas is in danger of being completely subsumed to the commercial spirit.” Rev. Hubers appreciated the concert’s ability to introduce the audience to a broader range of Christmas music, with both songs that capture the depths of the incarnation and carols that allow the audience to participate.
Sophomores Hannah Biernacki and Andrea Hallberg, members of the Women’s Choir, are both looking forward to the Vespers concerts.
“The concert brings in the Christmas season,” Hallberg said. “The music is beautiful, the carols are fun to perform with the audience and I enjoy having so many different types of choirs and bands. I think this a favorite concert for those who are watching and listening.”
“Singing with the huge group of both choirs and audience members in such a collective, worshipful way is probably the best part,” said Biernacki.
The program will open with a performance from the Brass Ensemble that will set the tone for the event. The Chamber Orchestra, directed by Dr. Kimberly Utke Svanoe, will perform an arrangement of the carol Of the Father’s Love Begotten and Steven Amundson’s Glories Ring.
The Women’s choir, directed by Dr. Linell Moss, will be performing Gloria ad modum tubae by composer Guillame Dufay and John Rutter’s Candlelight Carol. Students Kiersten Van Wyhe, Katlyn DeVries, Sam Schouweiler and Jana Bruce will have instrumental solos in the performance of Hope for Resolution by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory.
Gloria, by the French composer Francis Poulenc, will be performed by the A cappella choir and will feature soprano solos by students Renee Ausborn, Karina Smit and Erica Bauserman. The A cappella choir will also be performing Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque, with a solo from sophomore Rianna De Winkle, and Paul Christiansen’s arrangement of Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.