14th annual Christmas Concert moves audience to tears
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Hundreds of family members and friends waited in the cold winter night awaiting the doors of the First Presbyterian Church to open. The soft melody of violins and cello danced around in the brisk air coming from the Westmont Chamber Orchestra. Finally, the doors were opened and people began to shuffle into the warmth of the chapel, warmly lit and decorated with much Christmas spirit. The chaotic noise of the audience members talking over each other was silenced as the lights dimmed. Two narrators of the 14th annual Christmas Festival took the spotlight. There with calmed, moving voices, they told the beginnings of the glorious story of the incarnation of Christ.
As the performance began, the orchestra sat at the front of the chapel, each student at their seat playing their instruments all in perfect unison and harmony. Though, to the audience’s auditory surprise, the choir began to sing from behind the majority of the audience at the top of the balcony bringing about a new and creative sound. The festival continued to keep the audience on their toes with different stage positioning and choreography.
The Christmas Festival featured all of the different parts of Westmont’s music program such as the Westmont College Choir, Orchestra and Chamber Singers. They played traditional songs sung in Latin that alluded to the Christmas story as well as songs in Zulu. Not only that, but there were also some songs that the audience, choir, and orchestra all sang along to such as traditional Polish carol “Infant Holy,” traditional English carol “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”
Ruthie Dickinson, a first year pianist, describes her first Christmas Festival: “It was amazing to be a part of the orchestra that not only played beautiful and technical music like ‘Jubilate Deo,’ but also played along with such an incredible choir and could also play fun and common songs the audience could sing along with.” She describes her overall time with the orchestra this semester as “amazing to be surrounded by such accomplished yet young musicians, incredible to be enveloped in such beautiful music, and a blessing to have such kind and talented mentors, teachers, and conductors.” Jason Joseph, a bass in the choral union expressed his excitement in his participation in the festival as well. “Opening Night is always exciting, since it’s normally your peers that show up to come and support. The last show definitely had more energy than the first, which is probably due to people being more nervous for the first performance.”
There was an abundance of talent present in the musical groups that truly shows how amazing the Westmont music department is, as well as the worthwhile investment the students and professors put into the performances. Overall, this year’s “Gloria in Excelsis” or “The Song of the Angels” was indeed presentation of music that songs angels could sing. The performance beautifully told the story of Christ that moved some to tears.