Christmas Festival ushers in the holiday season

A&E, News, Student Life

This year’s annual Christmas Festival is singing its way to the stage. Five of the university’s choral groups will be coming together after Thanksgiving Break to bring a Christmas message to the Bexley community through song.

Every year, the repertoire of the Christmas Festival is selected to fit around a unifying theme. According to Dr. Lynda Hasseler, the director of choral activities and primary coordinator of the festival, this year’s theme is “abide with us.”

“When I choose a theme, I find that everything starts to connect together,” Hasseler said. “In every era, people have found ways to be alienated from one another … I think more than ever, we live in a world that requires us to work together.”

Performers have been preparing since mid-October, blowing out the “can you listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving” debate.

The concept of abiding is a powerful unifier for both faculty and students alike.

“To be able to sit there, especially this year with the theme of abiding, of just staying and being, it really connects with a lot of people,” Tony Giannamore, senior music major and member of the chordsmen and chapel choir said.

“[It’s about] asking for God’s presence to be with us, and in that, also abiding with each other,” interim chordsmen director Chad Baker said.

The Christmas Festival is a massive event. According to Hasseler, the choirs have been preparing for the festival since the beginning of the semester, and have been practicing in earnest since mid-October. Hasseler herself has been involved in planning and coordinating Christmas Festivals at Capital for 28 years.

Around 175 singers are participating in the festival, along with string and brass quartets, woodwinds, piano and organ accompanists, a percussion group and even some soloists.

“There are very, very many details,” Hasseler said. “It’s a little like writing a piece of music … I love it.”

The repertoire for the festival is large and varied, ranging from familiar Christmas carols to less well known but equally powerful compositions.

“As a part of two different choirs … we learn close to 20 songs for this Christmas Festival, so the work that goes in to memorizing all of the music and the rehearsal time is tremendous, but it pays off in the end,” Hunter John, junior vocal music education major and member of the chordsmen and chapel choir said.

“It’s a wide variety of things,” Baker said. “Newer works, older works, and it sort of spans the centuries.”

According to Baker, the festival is meant to be a seamless experience where each song and reading flows into the next. The focus of the performance is not the same as your typical concert.

“The goal is to be as efficient as we can be,” Baker said. “It’s really designed to be a worship service designed around Christmas.”

This year’s performance is set to be one that keeps the audience engaged through thoughtful transitions between songs.

“I love how this isn’t just a normal choir concert … this is a message,” John said.

The audience will not be left idle during the performance. During select songs, the audience will be invited to join the choirs in singing familiar carols. This too is designed to fit this year’s theme of abiding, to not restrict the music to just those singing on stage.

Hasseler also hinted that there will be several surprises during the festival, especially during songs sung by the chapel choir. Baker also indicated that the finale of the festival would be different than usual, and something to look forward to.

This year’s Christmas Festival will be held in the evening at Mees Hall from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 at 7:30, and in the afternoon on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3:30. Tickets are still available online and can be purchased at capital.edu/christmas-festival.

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