Even COVID can't stop Christmas.
In an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines, Lenoir-Rhyne University has shifted its annual in-person Christmas performance to a virtual performance. On Friday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m., the university A Cappella choir, college singers, wind ensemble, brass ensemble and trumpet ensemble are presenting a virtual concert, "Love to Such a World as This: A Lenoir-Rhyne Christmas 2020" shown live on the Music at Lenoir-Rhyne YouTube channel.
"We can't gather 330 people in our chapel, but we are committed to focusing on what we can do: providing our students with quality music experiences and helping the LR and Hickory community celebrate the Christmas season," said Dr. Ryan Luhrs, director of university choral programs at LR.
The theme of this year's concert is, "Love to Such a World as This" derived from the Christmas carol, "See, Amid the Winter's Snow." The A Cappella choir will perform Dan Forrest's arrangement of this Christmas favorite as well as a David Cherwien arrangement of "Joy to the World" and Rosephanye Powell's "The World was God." The program also features music from previous years such as, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and "Glory to God" from Handel's, Messiah. The wind ensemble, brass ensemble and trumpet ensemble contribute familiar seasonal music.
Luhrs directs the choral ensembles. Collaborative artist Jeana Neal Borman and university cantor Cory Westby will accompany the choirs and hymn singing. Dr. Christopher Nigrelli, professor of music, leads the brass ensemble, while instructor of music and associate director of bands Neil Underwood leads the wind ensemble and music program technical assistant Tim Phillips leads the trumpet ensemble.
Typically, the university hosts its Christmas performance at Grace Chapel to sold out audiences; however, due to guidelines from the health department, the university has canceled large gatherings on campus.
"To many, the world seems like a rather messed up place right now," Luhrs said. "Despite the challenges, we are grateful for opportunity to spread the Christmas message of peace, hope and joy through music."