MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (November 26, 2019) — This year's "Christmas at Monmouth" event will once again be a full celebration of the holiday, with a Christmas service being held in the midst of the traditional concert featuring many of the College's musical ensembles.
"Christmas at Monmouth" will be held at 7:30PM December 7 in the Kasch Performance Hall of Dahl Chapel and Auditorium. There is a $5 suggested donation for non-students to raise money for the Chorale's trip next spring to Europe.
Last year was the first time that the College's annual Christmas convocation, typically held on a Tuesday morning, was added to the Saturday evening "Christmas at Monmouth" event, and organizers Tim Pahel and the Rev Dr Teri Ott felt the change in format went well.
"It's kind of a blend of a little bit of Christmas service and a little bit of Christmas convocation as well as a concert," said Pahel, who directs the College's vocal activities. "It seemed to work well last year."
Recently promoted to a new position as dean of the chapel, Ott will deliver a Christmas message titled "Called to Joy," based on Luke 2: 1-14.
Ensembles performing during the event will include the Chorale, the Chamber Choir, the Concert Choir, the Monmouth Winds, and the Chamber Orchestra.
"And prior to the concert, we're going to have a brass quintet performing some Christmas tunes," said Pahel. "Our student-led a cappella group, The Highland Harmonizers, is also going to perform before the concert."
Choosing the selections for the program requires a balancing act, said Pahel, as sticking only with old and traditional versions and selections "would miss some entertainment value."
"I think having that variety is really important — having some tunes that are recognizable, as well as some that are new or interesting," he said. "There are so many opportunities to do things that include a little 'Christmas around the world' element — a multicultural element — mixed in with things that are more familiar."
He said another aspect to consider is to provide a learning opportunity for the participating students.
"We want it to be educational for them," said Pahel. "Not only that they're singing tunes they already know, but that they're learning new music. They're learning things that are complex and that will be challenging for them. So it's all a balance."
The Chorale will sing the gospel-style piece "Mary Had a Baby," as well as a Renaissance motet by Palestrina.
"We're also going to do an arrangement of the Canadian carol 'The Huron Carol,' but the sound is kind of a contemporary sound, so it's kind of an intersection of old and new and traditional and non-traditional," said Pahel. "We always have audience sing-along carols that are very traditional, so we'll have 'Joy to the World' and 'Hark the Herald' and 'Silent Night.'"
All the choirs will join together to sing the latter song. During the third verse, the audience members will hold up candles which "helps create the Christmas spirit," said Pahel.