Christmas in Christ Chapel 2018 welcomes the Christmas season.
Five shows filled with music, word, and dance will bring almost 9,000 people to campus this weekend.
Tickets for three of the five services have sold out, though there will be a live broadcast of the service on the Gustavus website.
Planning for this event began before the end of the 2017 school year, when Dr. Gregory Aune was chosen by then Chaplain Brian Konkel to lead planning for the 2018 service.
“Planning with the full committee commenced early in the spring semester of 2018, with the committee meeting weekly right up to the end of classes in May,” Dr. Aune stated.
“This is a very long and meticulous process, but I think the care given to the selection of music is one of the things that makes our program very distinctive,” Aune said.
The committee is comprised of Dr. Aune as Artistic Director, and Brandon Dean as Music Director and Conductor of the Choir of Christ Chapel and the Lucia Singers.
It also includes Chad Winterfeldt as Cantor of Christ Chapel, conductor of the Chapel Ringers and the organist for the services, as well as Dr. Ruth Lin as the conductor of the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra.
Michele Rusinko, professor of dance, Lydia Francis, scenic designer, and Barb Larsen-Taylor, who oversees the printed program and program details were also part of the Christmas in Christ Chapel committee.
Siri Erikson is the college chaplain, and selects scripture, poetry, and readings that match the theme of the service.
She has also written some original pieces which will be incorporated into the service.
“All of these individuals contribute their ideas and give feedback in the weekly group meetings, and over time the full content and show flow become finalized. It is a great group of thinkers and artists… Each and every year Christmas in Christ Chapel is new and distinctive” Aune said.
This year’s theme is “Visions of Divine Mystery.” This theme “weaves a compelling tapestry of music, dance, spoken word, and the visual arts to proclaim the great wonder and timeless relevance of the incarnation as revealed to us through angels and prophets,” this year’s Christmas in Christ Chapel webpage said.
“I think what’s changed most about Christmas in Christ Chapel from year to year is where we are meant to direct our focus. Although we know that C in CC’s entire purpose is to bring in the Christmas season by celebrating the birth of Christ, each year has invited us to do that in different ways. My freshman year invited performers and audiences to embrace the interconnectedness of humanity; last year explored how God lives among us; this year, we explore the divine mystery of Christ. ” said junior Aleah Felton.
A tentative repertoire for Christmas in Christ Chapel is usually selected before summer break, according to Dr. Ruth Lin.
Once students return from break and the new school year’s auditions are over, practices during classes begin.
The choirs started practicing together around the 1st of November.
Each group gets in “a good 20 hours” of rehearsal time before services begin, Lin added.
“C in CC preparation has been underway since day one of choir. I am a part of the Lucia Singers, which is the women’s choir. During Lucia practices, we have been working on our two solo pieces, and six mass choir pieces. We also sing three hymns with the congregation” freshman Maddi McChesney said.
This year, there are many ‘mass pieces’, or pieces where all three choirs sing together, which require more preparation than pieces performed by each choir individually. “I absolutely love the combined pieces, they fill the entire chapel up with sound, and it gives me chills singing with about 250 other singers… as well as the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra. The combined pieces truly bring all three of the choirs together. I am so excited to perform my first ever Christmas in Christ Chapel” McChesney added. The Gustavus Choir, the Choir of Christ Chapel, the Lucia Singers, the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, the Chapel Ringers, and dancers from the Theatre and Dance Department are all involved in this year’s service, as are Dr. Michael Jorgenson and Professor Melissa Williams, who will be performing during the program.
“What I love most about Christmas in Christ Chapel is bringing new people into the tradition of O Come All Ye Faithful… being able to share how special and incredibly euphoric that moment is when every person—every musician, singer, and even the audience themselves—is putting everything they have into that one moment I think, is the epitome of what Christmas in Christ Chapel is” Felton stated.
This will be Dr. Aune’s 24th and final Christmas in Christ Chapel service, as he is retiring at the end of this academic year. A huge thank you goes to all faculty, staff, and students involved in the planning and performances of this year’s event.