Since 1912, the St. Olaf College Christmas Festival popularly nicknamed “Christmas Fest” has infused listeners all over the nation with the spirit of the holidays by uniting the five campus choirs with the St. Olaf Orchestra for a series of performances. It is important to remember, however, that the spirit of the season extends beyond Christmas Festival to include both student groups and community members.
In order to keep track of the many opportunities to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year,” here is a compilation of upcoming Christmas events at St. Olaf.
Dec. 6, 5 p.m., Boe Chapel
Norseman Band is coming off of their Thanksgiving Break chapel performance to create a “Christmas Celebration Mini- Concert.” This arrangement is entirely student-conducted, exploring different styles of Christmas music. The program strays from the religious tradition of Christmas Festival and chooses instead to entertain with “more traditional” secular carols such as “Sleigh Ride.”
Tuba Christmas Concert
Dec. 7, 3 p.m., Crossroads
The Tuba Christmas Concert is a nationally-recognized tradition bringing together tuba and euphonium players ages 10-80 to perform traditional Christmas carols. This St. Olaf concert is one of over 250 “Merry Tuba Christmas” concerts that take place across the nation and abroad. The event was first crafted 40 years ago by legendary tuba player Harvey Phillips although composer Alec Wilder wrote the carols specifically for tuba around 1974. These “Tuba Christmas” events are formed to bring together performers of all ages from “specific geographical regions,” drawing upon the larger community to join in the music and memory-making traditions of the holidays. This particular event could have up to 100 participants and will be led by Associate Professor of Music Paul Niemisto, conductor of Norseman Band.
Handbell Christmas: Christmas Bells
Dec. 7, 4:30 p.m., Crossroads
The “Christmas Bells” concert is a blend of two St. Olaf handbell choirs: the St. Olaf Handbell Choir and the Chapel Ringers. The two choirs are joining forces to create a memorable and energetic concert. The St. Olaf Handbell Choir also performs in Christmas Festival.
An A Cappella Christmas
Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m., the Lion’s Pause Three well-known student a cappella ensembles Agnes A Cappella, Krossmen A Cappella and the Limestones will be collaborating in one free Christmas concert bound to brighten holiday spirits. The concert is sponsored by the St. Olaf Mental Health Awareness Club and will feature Christmas music and a cookie- decorating bar. And do not forget to wear an ugly sweater – there will be a contest for the ugliest Christmas sweater part way through the performance. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Gospel Choir Caroling
Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Mellby Hall; 8:30 p.m., Hoyme Hall; 9 p.m., Hilleboe/Kittelsby Halls
Dec. 12, 11:15 a.m., Crossroads
After a tumultuous ride through a range of setbacks, the new and improved Gospel Choir is back in action as a student-run choir. The choir is utilizing their normal rehearsal time 8-9:30 p.m. on Mondays to give back to the student community through festive caroling that aims to be very different from the Christmas Festival experience.
“We are coming to the students,” said Devon Steve ’17, current conductor of Gospel Choir. “We are caroling for students in order to give them a taste of Christmas right before finals and as a final good-bye as we all make our way home. Students may be tired of Christmas Fest, but this is a totally different look at Christmas from a gospel choir perspective.”
The program includes popular Christmas ballads, sing-a-long opportunities and traditional religious staples re-imagined with a gospel kick.
Interested parties should note that the group is open to all class years, voice parts and experience levels and is still accepting members at any time.
Happy holidays, St. Olaf College! Enjoy all the festivities, decorations and beautiful music that envelope our lovely campus.