November 27, 2000
Concert kicks off holiday season
By Deb Hammacher
For many Atlantans, the start of the Yuletide season begins with Emorys annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, scheduled this year for Dec. 12 in Glenn Auditorium.
Performed by the University Chorus, the program is based on the traditional
Christmas service at Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, England.
This magical melding of scripture lessons read in conjunction with the
performance of international carols has been an Atlanta tradition since
The local tradition of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols grew out
of Christmas concerts first performed at Atlantas First Presbyterian
Church in 1925. The annual event moved to the newly built Glenn Memorial
Church in 1931, and the current festival format, adopted in 1935, has
met widespread popular and critical acclaim.
The festival is filled with traditions such as the opening candlelight
procession of the choir singing Once in Royal Davids City
and the closing singing of Silent Night. The service was developed
in 1880 by E.W. Benson, bishop of Truro. The local tradition is so strong
that several families who moved away from the area reunite at the concert
every year in the same spot of the balcony, according to Eric Nelson,
director of choral activities at Emory.
This years festival features probably the largest University Chorus
ever, with more than 200 singers, and a substantial musical accompaniment.
This years instrumentation includes piano, organ, eight-part brass
choir and two percussionists. Emory faculty member Deborah Thoreson will
play piano, while alumnus Brad Hughley is the organist. The Concert Choir
is 45 singers strong this year.
The University Chorus has grown from 108 singers when I arrived
at Emory four years ago, so finding enough robes is proving to be a challenge
this year, Nelson joked.
The featured choral work is Rutters Gloria.
Two movements were done last year and were so well-received that
I decided to do the whole thing this year, Nelson said. Another
crowd-pleaser this year is Biebls Ave Maria to be sung
by the men of the Concert Choir. Were doing the Biebl piece
in homage to the Emory Glee Club of years past, Nelson said.
The former mens chorus was merged into the University Chorus along
with the Emory Chorale about 10 years ago, according to Nelson. Another
new selection in the chorus repertoire for the festival is Nelsons
own arrangement of the French traditional carol, Shepherds, What
is This Lovely Fragrance.
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will have three performances: Dec.
1 at 8:15 p.m., and Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Admission is $10.
For tickets or more information, call 404-727-5050 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org