By Kathryn Moore
A Union Christmas, one of the most beloved holiday traditions at the university, will take place Dec. 4 in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel with nearly 200 performers from eight college and community ensembles celebrating the birth of Christ.
The music department’s annual Christmas concert will feature students from the symphonic band, string ensemble, handbells ensemble, men’s choir, women’s choir, University Singers and Voices of Proclamation.
Children from Union’s Community Music Center also will perform. These groups will perform Christmas carols such as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Sussex Carol,” “Fantasia on Greensleeves” and “Ding! Dong! Merrily on High.”
The evening will incorporate Scripture readings by selected faculty and students telling the Christmas story.
Chris Mathews, associate professor of music and music department chair, has orchestrated the event for the last five years and said it is one of his favorite departmental events to put together.
The concert was a collaborative effort, because in addition to performing feature pieces, many of the ensembles performed songs together, which does not happen in any other concerts during the semester.
“When I first came to Union and was given the responsibility of planning the event, I wanted it to be more of a collage of ensembles,” Mathews said. “We try to feature as many of our music students as we can.”
Many of the ensembles had recently performed semester-end concerts prior to A Union Christmas, meaning each ensemble only had about two weeks to learn the music for the concert. No groups will have practiced together before the only full dress rehearsal Monday night.
Mathews said he relies on the musicianship of the students to make sure it all runs smoothly.
Kelsey McFarland, junior music and psychology major and member of University Singers, said she worries about performing the pieces after so little rehearsal time.
“We learned our music only two weeks ago, and it has been a lot of work to turn around this quickly and perform in front of people,” McFarland said.
A Union Christmas is the Department of Music’s largest-attended event of the year, said Mathews, because family and friends of students and children’s chorus members always attend.
“There’s a lot of talent at this university, but I think our faculty and students would be disappointed if we left here celebrating that [talent],” Mathews said. “I want the attendees to leave celebrating Christmas and exalting Christ.”