Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

A longstanding tradition contiunes with “Christmas at Augustana”

Ascension Ringers, Augustana Brass Ensemble, Augustana Choir, Augustana Concerrt Chorale, Augustana Symphony Orchestra, and Jenny Lind Ensemble come together for the annual Christmas at Augustana concert. Photo by Maria Do.

This year, Christmas came to Augustana once again during the weekend of December 1st. This collaborative performance has been a tradition at Augustana for 10 years and is a much-anticipated event.
Dr. Michael Zemek, one of the choir directors at Augustana, stated that the theme of this year’s performance was Joyful All Ye Nationals Rise which he said “provid[ed] [them] with the opportunity to share many favorite and familiar carols as well as new songs from communities that celebrate Christmas around the globe.” They are excited that some new arrangements were performed, including an orchestration of a Korean song written just for the musicians at Augustana.
Dr. Zemek believes that Christmas at Augustana is so important because it is “the one concert each year when we combine our musical forces, when all the choirs sing with orchestra and band students and even handbells!” He states that there’s something really exciting about that, even in the busy days of the season.
“We also get to share this with our families and friends in the community.  So many people know the songs of Christmas by heart, and to hear them performed in this setting is something they look forward to all fall.”
This year, one of the directors, Dr. Hurty, was on sabbatical. Junior Augustana student and member of Augie Choir, Abigail Roselieb, said that even though he is on sabbatical “he’s often found around the building! It is different not having him in class; he has a way of structuring rehearsals so that they move very efficiently and we accomplish a lot of pieces in a short amount of time.”
Roselieb explained that the Augustana Choir and herself do miss having Dr. Hurty at rehearsals, however, they do enjoy Mr. May who is the choir’s interim director while Dr. Hurty is gone.
Roselieb, who has participated in the performance for three years, explained that she “really enjoyed our more traditional repertoire like O Magnum Mysterium. Both of our pieces for Augie Choir really captured the beauty and mystery that is often associated with Advent, and being able to sing them with such an intuitive choir was really enjoyable.”
Roselieb also described hearing the Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble sing a similar song: “There is silence around me”.  However, she explained that, apart from hearing the other choirs perform, the best part of the concert is the processional.
“Walking in with the votives, with the grand fanfare is always really fun and creates a really interesting musical moment,” Roselieb said.
Roselieb also mentioned that she believes that an event like Christmas at Augustana is a really important tradition as we begin Advent. “The music selected,,,addresses every emotion that comes along with Advent: joy, wonder, mystery, expectation, and even melancholy at times. This is my third year participating and I always leave the performances feeling very excited for the Christmas season, and I think that’s what audiences take away from it as well.”

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A longstanding tradition contiunes with “Christmas at Augustana”