Campus kicks off holiday season with music
Most of the people outside Hendricks Chapel rubbed their hands together to stay warm Sunday night as this year’s holiday concert began. The chapel’s dean, Thomas Wolfe, gave the audience members words of warmth as they braved the bitter cold.
‘This is a time we celebrate the gifts we are given and the gifts we have to give,’ Wolfe said.
The annual holiday concert was performed by a number of Syracuse’s musical organizations, all of which contributed to a very merry kickoff to the holiday season here at SU.
The night’s events started with carols performed by members of the SU Marching Band, the Hendricks Chapel Choir and the Sour Citrus Society on the chapel steps. Among the many songs performed were the traditionally well known ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ and ‘Silent Night,’ to which the audience enthusiastically sang along. In fact the audience’s participation was the only reason anybody heard any lyrics as the band’s instrumentals overpowered the choir. This didn’t prove too problematic until the singing of ‘Oh Hannukah,’ to which nobody knew the words.
Following speeches given by Wolfe and the Reverend Kelly Sprinkle, Provost Eric Spina began the countdown to the lighting of the tree. Spina, whose roots are in aerospace engineering, jokingly found it appropriate to start at 10 like a rocket launch instead of the traditional five.
After this, the crowd was invited inside the warm walls of Hendricks where the main performance of the night took place. Led by conductor John Warren, the concert continued with the combined efforts of the choir, the Chapel Handbell Ringers and the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble.
The stars of the show were without a doubt the choir members who gave stirring performances throughout the night. Most notable among their recitals were ‘Verbum Caro Factus Est’ and ‘While by My Sheep,’ which highlighted the talents of Sarah Schaffner, Nikole Saulsberry, Sang Lee and Michael Debach in a quartet. Accompanying the choir was Kola Owolabi, who put forth an excellent effort on both the organ and piano.
The Handbell Ringers provided light, enjoyable breaks in between the choir and the brass ensemble. Their playing of ‘Christmas Tapestry’ and ‘A Handel Christmas Medley’ incorporated a mixture of well-known carols and holiday melodies.
Driving the concert home was the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble. The highlight of the group’s contributions was unquestionably ‘Joshua Swings the Battle,’ a jazz piece showcasing the strong play through trumpet solos.
‘It was fierce,’ said freshman musical theater major Amanda Varcelotti. ‘I loved it.’
Amusing moments at the concert included the ensemble’s rendition of ’12 Days of Christmas,’ which incorporated kazoos. Following that was the singing of ‘Ale Brider,’ a traditional Yiddish folksong, with the entire refrain consisting of the word, ‘oy.’ This last piece was performed by both the choir and the audience.
The night culminated in all three sections performing ‘Arise, Your Light Has Come.’ This finale was incredibly grandiose and inspirational.
‘I enjoyed the collaboration of all the different groups,’ said Graham Douglass, a sophomore acting major.
As an unexpected holiday bonus, the people exiting the chapel were greeted with a light but steady December snowfall.
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