More than 300 St. Thomas students are preparing for the annual Christmas concert that will take place Sunday, Dec. 6. While this year’s performance will not be taped, last year’s concert will be shown again Dec. 24 and 25 on Twin Cities Public Television.
“It really is the only time during the year that the music department gets to showcase many of their performing ensembles in the same venue,” said Angela Broeker, music professor and director of choral activities, concert choir and chamber singers.
The Christmas concert tradition began in 1988 as a gift to the St. Thomas community from the Rev. Terrence Murphy and the music department. The concert originally was held in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas; however, as its popularity increased, so did the need for more seats. The concert since has been moved off campus to Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.
STAR has purchased 200 tickets for this year’s concert entitled, “Tis Love That’s Born Tonight.” Tickets will be $5 for students through the box office and Nadine Friederichs, co-producer of the concert, said those tickets will be available “for sure by Nov. 30.”
USG is also providing free transportation from the St. Paul campus to Orchestra Hall.
Last year, about 5,000 people attended the two performances. Tickets for this year’s 4 p.m. performance are almost sold out. Individuals may have better luck finding tickets for the 7 p.m. performance, as several seating options are still available.
Student preparation and involvement
Several students said the time spent preparing for the concert is worth it in the end.
“Sure, the practices are long and the dress rehearsal sometimes goes painfully slow,” senior Joshua Bauder said. “But when lights finally dim … something clicks: The realization that this concert isn’t ‘about’ the St. Thomas music department or even ‘about’ St. Thomas at all. It’s about the praise and honor of Jesus Christ. That’s what makes it so genuine and so wonderful.”
Bauder has participated in the Christmas concert all four years and became the president of the chamber singers this year. He can pinpoint the exact moment he is most excited for.
“It’s hearing the soprano descant in the third verse of ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,’ which all the choirs perform every year with congregational participation; it’s become a St. Thomas tradition,” he said. “In that final, victorious verse, all the hope and power of Christianity are squeezed into 20 measures. Each year I nearly pass out from singing too hard.”
Senior Adam Lanser shares that passion for connecting with people through music.
“This year, I am looking forward to sharing our music with new people, as I do every year,” Lanser said. “This concert, above all our other concerts, really connects to every member of the audience.”
Unique collaboration piece highlights this year’s concert
Broeker said this year is unique for the Christmas concert as it marks the debut of a unique collaboration piece.
“We’ve had a piece written for all the choirs and the symphonic wind ensemble to perform together,” Broeker said. “It’s called ‘A Little Symphony of English Carols.’ We’re very excited to premiere the work and to have something that was composed specifically for the configuration of ensembles we have here at the University of St. Thomas.”
The concert also has a specific theme around which songs are carefully selected.
“Each year we select a theme and then we choose repertoire that supports the theme or exemplifies the theme in some way,” Broeker said. “This year … we’re going to have a processional … and other pieces throughout the concert that highlight the word love and the true Christmas message.”
Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org