‘Christmas at Augustana’ a favorite holiday tradition

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Augustana presents its third annual “Christmas at Augustana” holiday concert—which has sold out in previous years—on Friday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 4, at 4 p.m. in Centennial Hall (3703 7th Ave.). More than 300 students in the college’s choirs, brass ensemble and orchestra will share their musical talents in what promises to be a memorable concert, especially for the Augustana seniors on stage.

“This is a special performance for me because it’s my last Christmas concert before graduation,” said Erin Christian, a member of the Augustana Choir. “I’m really happy we’ve added this as one of our traditions because it’s something my high school had every year, and it’s one of my favorite memories of high school. Having it in college just furthers that tradition for me and for my family.”

Fellow senior choir member Ryan Shershen added, “This is the only time that the orchestra, brass ensemble, Augustana Choir and the Wennerberg, Cantilena and Jenny Lind [choirs] all come together to perform a concert. I hope this tradition continues for year to come.”

For this year’s performance, the Augustana Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Daniel Culver, commissioned music faculty member Dr. David Davies to compose an original work. The title of Davies’ composition, “Entsprungen,” comes from the title of the German Christmas tune “Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen” (Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming). The piece draws its inspiration from the doctrine of the incarnation, which Davies considers one of the most fascinating aspects of the Christmas story.

“I love the way the text of this carol likens the incarnation to a perpetually blooming rose, and the tune for the carol is woven into the musical fabric throughout the composition,” Davies said. “It’s my desire that ‘Entsprungen’ will serve as a meaningful and moving addition to an already wonderful program, and I’m looking forward to hearing the students give its world premiere.”

Senior Dana Gustafson, who plays French horn, says it’s special to premiere any piece of music, but it’s more exciting when it’s written by one of her own professors.

“Dr. Davies knows Dr. Culver, knows the players in the orchestra and can truly write something unique and complementary for us,” Gustafson says. “I especially like this piece because it’s based on the theme of one of my very favorite Christmas hymns, but also has a distinct modern feel to it. Dr. Davies features the different sections in the orchestra, which I like. There are beautiful string and woodwind melodies, a soaring solo trumpet line and sections of strong harmonized brass—which I like the best, but I’m biased as a horn player.”

Tickets for Christmas at Augustana are available at www.augustana.edu/tickets or by calling (309) 794-7306.

Christmas at Augustana is one of a series of performances planned for the Christmas season. The Handel Oratorio Society, a choir that combines the vocal talents of Augustana students and Quad-City community members, along with the professional Handel Oratorio Society Chamber Orchestra and guest soloists, will perform Handel’s Messiah on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m. in continuation of an annual tradition. The event will be held in Centennial Hall (3703 7th Ave.). Tickets are available at www.augustana.edu/tickets or by calling (309) 794-7306.

The Augustana Chamber Singers and the Office of Campus Ministries will present Lessons and Carols on Thursday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. This beautiful Christmas service chronicles Christ’s birth through songs and readings in Ascension Chapel (on campus at 820 38th St.). The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Andrew Walter at clydeandrewwalter@augustana.edu or (309) 794-7833.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 70 majors and related areas of study. Augustana employs 287 faculty members and has a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Augustana continues to do what it has always done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in our complex, ever-changing world.