Westminster prepares for 25th anniversary of holiday tradition

By Sage E. Spitz 

This holiday season, Westminster Choir College students will bring festive music to the Princeton University Chapel.

Students from the Westminster Chapel Choir, the Concert Bell Choir, the Schola Cantorum and the Symphonic Choir will perform various musical pieces to get the community into the holiday spirit.

Readings and Carols is a yearly Princeton tradition which incorporates holiday music, under the direction of conductors Joe Miller, James Jordan, Amanda Quist and Kathleen Shaw.

Concert Bell Choir conductor, Shaw, has been directing at Westminster for 27 years.

“This year’s Reading and Carols program will include traditional pieces that we perform from year to year, but will also include three new choral commissions,” she said.

This is the 25th  anniversary of Readings and Carols, which began in 1992. According to Shaw, the Concert Bell Choir is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Westminster was the first university in the world to offer a curriculum that was developed in order to train music educators and church musicians in the art of handbell ringing, said Shaw.

The Concert Bell Choir will be performing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” “Greensleeves,” as well as “Sleigh Ride,” which Shaw refers to as “an audience favorite.”

According to Shaw, Readings and Carols was based on the King’s College Cambridge Festival of Lessons and Carols, and it has evolved over the years to “reflect the diverse community of Rider University.”

The event begins with a pre-concert music. There are various tunes played on the organ, followed by the traditional performance of “I Wonder as I Wander,” sung by the freshmen Chapel Choir.

A processional of “Kyrie Eleison” follows, after which readings are interspersed with various hymns and musical pieces.

At the end of the program, all the choirs will join together to sing traditional holiday tunes, such as “Joy to the World,” after which there is a recessional and postlude.

Senior voice performance major and member of the Symphonic Choir Kathee Zhen said, “My favorite part is when the lights come on and we sing ‘Joy to the World’ at the very end. It’s so joyous and happy and it really feels like Christmas is here.”

According to Zhen, the Symphonic Choir, which includes the junior and senior students, will be performing “the fan favorite,” Whitbourn’s “Kyrie Eleison,” as well as Bach’s “Dona Nobis Pacem.”

Zhen reminisced about her first time attending Readings and Carols, saying, “I remember my freshman year, I was sitting in the balcony watching the solos, then the organ came in super loud and the procession started, and it was literally so magical.”

Readings and Carols will take place Friday, Dec. 8 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. in the Princeton University Chapel. 

 

Printed in the 12/6/17 edition. 

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