Emma Kelsey – Staff Writer
This past Sunday, Oct. 30, marked the beginning of mass rehearsals for Christmas in Christ Chapel, often referred to as C in CC. These mass rehearsals consist of the three choirs on campus: the Gustavus Choir, the Lucia Singers, and The Choir of Christ Chapel. These three ensembles came together in Bjorling Recital Hall to begin preparations for this signature event here at Gustavus.
The annual Christmas in Christ Chapel events are not only significant for the college and those who attend them, but for the students who put so much of their time, efforts, and passion into the performances and the preparations which lead up to them. The three choirs will each perform pieces as individual ensembles, and perform a handful of songs together as a whole group. The three ensembles will have seven total mass rehearsals to put together the performance. This Sunday marked the first.
Senior Brenna Germscheid shared that she is feeling very excited with the start of Christmas in Christ Chapel rehearsals, and that it is wonderful to hear the voices of all three choirs coming together to make this music as one unified ensemble for the first time. It is also nerve-wracking to begin such a time-consuming process during which students will spend several hours and late nights rehearsing, while balancing school and other commitments. However, she remains optimistic about the process and looks forward to the opportunity to meet members of the other choral ensembles. “I hope to get to know the members of the other choirs more as this time of the year is the most time we get to spend together,” Germscheid said.
Cara Gardner shares similar feelings as a fellow Senior in G-choir. “I cannot believe this is my final year of C in CC. I know everyone says it but it truly goes by so fast. I am feeling excited, nervous, and overjoyed for this year’s C in CC. This is mostly because it is the first one since my freshman year that has been ‘normal,’” Gardner said.
For both of these students it will be their fourth and final year as a part of the Christmas in Christ Chapel performances; each of them reflect on past years, which looked starkly different. “It’s a bit strange to think back to my sophomore year when Christmas in Christ Chapel was all online. Having to sing to an empty chapel and pre-record all of our pieces was definitely a major shift compared to the previous year,” Germsheid said. She says that while there were advantages to recording the performance and having it online– including the ability to do several different takes and attend fewer rehearsals. She says that this did not outweigh the loss of excitement and enthusiasm for the event. “I missed singing with all the choirs; I had to sing six feet apart from the people in my own choir with a mask, and we performed to an empty chapel which definitely took away part of what makes C in CC special. Although I was still incredibly grateful to even have the opportunity to still have C in CC in such a time of uncertainty,” Germsheid said.
Gardner also laments the difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it had on the event of C in CC. “Luckily, we were still able to sing together as a choir. But, we were six feet away from each other, wearing singing masks, and filmed our songs alone with no audience and without the other choirs in October. It was such a hard and different experience from the C in CC performance just a year earlier,” Gardner said. While her junior year felt more normal, with all the choirs once again up in the risers and a masked audience, it was still not quite the same as the Christmas in Christ Chapel she had experienced as a first year. “This year is exciting because hopefully it will be a similar experience to the one I had three years ago,” Gardner said.
According to Gardner, with the return to normalcy, there is a stronger sense of community. Being able to sing near and around one another, being able to see one another’s faces and spend quality time making music in each other’s presence makes a difference, and allows for greater feelings of compassion, care, and camaraderie.
“It is such a unique experience that each one of us can share together. It is so exciting we all get to come together this year with no worries or fears of the over looming pandemic but we can just be together with our love of singing, love of music and we can really focus on that,” Gardner said.