LRU News

Annual “Christmas at Lenoir-Rhyne” Concert Features Vivaldi’s “Gloria”

Fri Nov 8 2013

HICKORY, N.C. — The Lenoir-Rhyne University A Cappella Choir will present Vivaldi’s “Gloria” with chamber orchestra at this year’s “Christmas at LR” concert on Monday and Tuesday, December 2 and 3, 7:30 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Hickory.  Also appearing on the program will be the College Singers, the Handbell Ensemble, and low Brass Ensemble.

These concerts are open to the public. Admission is free, but an offering will be taken to defray the costs of the orchestra.  Due to the popularity of these programs, those wishing to attend are encouraged to arrive early.

Dr. Paul Weber, director of the A Cappella Choir and College Singers, is organizer of the “Christmas at Lenoir-Rhyne” concerts.  This year’s theme is “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” the song of the angels that heralded the birth of the child of Bethlehem.  Accompanist for the choir is Jeana Neal Borman, collaborative artist at Lenoir-Rhyne.

The program will include a diversity of music including seasonal carols. The College Singers will open the concert with a Christmas madrigal by Thomas Morley and Benjamin Britten’s “This Little Babe,” after which they will perform three Spanish carols by Conrad Susa.  The popular Christmas classic, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” will conclude the set and will be accompanied by chamber orchestra.

The Handbell Ensemble directed by Cory Westby will offer “What Child Is This” and “Good King Wenceslas,” arranged by Barbara Kinyon, and the low Brass Ensemble conducted by Christopher Nigrelli will perform several selections.  Senior sacred music major Brandon Burns will play an organ voluntary during the free-will offering.

The second part of the program will highlight the A Cappella Choir in a performance of “Gloria” by Antonio Vivaldi, accompanied by a chamber orchestra of oboe, trumpet, strings, and harpsichord. Student soloists will perform four of the work’s twelve movements.  Vivaldi’s setting of “Gloria” was originally written for a female choir at a home for abandoned children in Venice, Italy where he was employed for almost thirty years.  It has since become one of the most beloved pieces of the choral repertoire.  Vivaldi’s bold, energetic, and, yet at times, poignant music conveys the song of the angels to the shepherds and the church’s historic hymn of praise to God.  First included in morning prayer in the Orthodox liturgy, the hymn, “Glory to God in the highest,” became a fixed part of the western liturgy as early as the fifth century and was subsequently carried over into Anglican and Lutheran worship orders at the time of the Reformation.

The climax of “Christmas at Lenoir-Rhyne” is always the candle lighting ceremony.  As the singers hold lighted candles, the audience will hear the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke interspersed with music of beauty and meaning:  “Ubi caritas” by Ola Gjeilo; “Silent Night!” by Mack Wilberg; “We Shall Walk Through the Valley” by Undine Smith Moore; “Before The Marvel of This Night” by Carl Schalk; and “True Light” by Keith Hampton.  The Finale of the evening will be a performance of F. Melius Christiansen’s “Praise to the Lord” by both choir and chamber orchestra.  At the conclusion, the audience will lend their voices to a gospel version of the carol, “Joy to the World.”

Founded during the 1935-36 academic year by Kenneth Lee, the A Cappella Choir is now in its 78th concert season and 15th under the direction of Dr. Paul Weber.  It has sung at the installation service of two national Lutheran bishops, at the 2009 Lutheran Reformation Service in the National Cathedral, and for the 200th anniversary of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.   This spring the Choir was featured during Bach Festival Days on the Hickory campus and at the Reformation Symposium at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.  The choir will be touring this spring in Florida.  Its Home Concert will be held on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.  Other choir performances will take place in Asheville and Boone this spring as well as at the closing concert of the Lenoir-Rhyne Choral Festival, 3:00 pm, Saturday, April 12, at the Hickory Arts Center Auditorium.  A compact disc featuring the choir’s recent performance of Carl Orff’s famous “Carmina Burana” will soon be released to help raise funds for the A Cappella Choir’s trip to Costa Rica in March of 2015.

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