NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The choirs of Stephen F. Austin State University will ring in the holidays with a "Seasonal Celebration," a program of beloved Christmas carols and classics, in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
Presenting the choirs in SFA's holiday tradition are Dr. Michael Murphy, director of choral activities at SFA, and Dr. Tod Fish, associate director, conductors; Martha De Luna of Las Caobas, Dominican Republic, and Ryan Herriage of Sulphur Springs, graduate student conductors; Dr. Ron Petti, Dr. Thomas Nixon and Professor Maggie Hinchliffe, collaborative pianists; and Hyo Jeong Ham of Seoul, South Korea, graduate collaborative pianist. Faculty guest artists include Dr. Nathan Nabb, director of the School of Music, saxophone; and Dr. Gary Wurtz, dean of the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts, trumpet.
The Kantorei and Singin' Axes choirs will sing arrangements of two beloved Christmas carols. Kantorei will sing Abbie Betinis' ethereal setting of Gustav Holst's classic tune to Christina Rossetti's text, "In the Bleak Midwinter." "I chose this selection because it is one of the more beautiful settings of this melody and for the opportunity to feature three talented soloists from Kantorei," Murphy said.
The Singin' Axes are singing Dan Forrest's arrangement of the timeless carol, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." "Forrest's setting allows our tenor-bass choir to display their lyricism and perform with Dr. Nabb on a beautiful soprano saxophone obbligato," Murphy explained.
Kantorei also sings Edward Elgar's staple in the treble choir repertory, "The Snow." The poem, set by Elgar's wife, depicts the glint of life dissipating in the winter of life, much like the snow that falls, melts, and fades each year. "Elgar sets the text beautifully and incorporates a gorgeous obbligato for two violins," Murphy said. "Our talented graduate conductor, Ryan Herriage, will conduct Elgar's classic work."
The Chamber Singers will present three holiday-inspired selections from three American composers. Graduate student Martha De Luna, will conduct the first selection of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." She will then accompany the Chamber Singers on the harp in Minnesotan composer Steve Heitzig's setting of e.e. cummings' "little tree." Lastly, the Chamber Singers will conclude their portion of the concert with the spiritual "Go Tell It On the Mountain" by arranger Carolyn Jennings.
The SFA A Cappella Choir will present a set of music from around the world, beginning with Swiss composer Frank Martin's "Gloria" from his 1922 unaccompanied Mass for Double Choir. "This work is hailed as one of the greatest a cappella works of the 20th century," Murphy said. American composer Morten Lauridsen's reverent setting of "O Magnum Mysterium" is followed by Canadian composer Katerina Gimon's "Fire," a lively, energetic work incorporating vocal percussion, body percussion and nonsense syllables and calls. The set is finished out with graduate student De Luna conducting John Rutter's "Candlelight Carol." The carol has an innocence about it as the British composer explains, "the supernatural light became the anachronistic candlelight."
The combined choirs of more than 120 voices will close the concert by singing perennial favorites, "Sleigh Ride" and "Silent Night." The choirs will be joined by several instrumentalists, including Dean Wurtz.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit finearts.sfasu.edu. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.