Emory Report
December 5, 2005
Volume 58, Number 13


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December 5 , 2005
Concert favorites help get University in holiday spirit

By nancy condon

Once again this December, University faculty, staff, students and award-winning touring artists will present three concerts that have become popular holiday traditions not only for Emory but for greater Atlanta, as well.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, performed by the University Chorus and Emory Concert Choir under conductor Eric Nelson, begins the season with its candlelit evening service of choral music and scripture, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium ($15 general admission; $12 for faculty, staff and alumni; $5 for Emory students).

Based on the 12th century Christmas service at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, the festival has been an Atlanta tradition since 1935, growing out of Christmas concerts started a decade earlier at Atlanta’s First Presbyterian Church. The event moved to Glenn upon the church’s completion in 1931, and its current format was adopted in 1935 to popular and critical acclaim. The festival is filled with traditions such as the opening candlelight procession of the choirs—this year numbering approximately 220 singers, the largest in festival history—singing “Once in Royal David’s City” and the closing singing of “Silent Night.”

The University Chorus includes faculty, staff, community members and graduate and undergraduate students. This year’s festival includes such well-known carols as “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and the new work “Lux Arumque” by American composer Eric Whitacre. University Organist Timothy Albrecht will present “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella.”

Next, the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta (ECMSA) and the Vega String Quartet perform music of the season for children and families at ECMSA’s 11th annual Holiday Concert and Sing-Along in
the Carlos Museum, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. ($4; free to museum members at the family level or above).

ECMSA artistic director William Ransom, Mary Emerson Professor of Piano and director of piano studies, and the Vega String Quartet will perform “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, selections from The Nutcracker Suite, and Christmas carols arranged for string quartet. Music faculty member and conductor Richard Prior also will lead a sing-along of holiday favorites.
Finally, pagan meets

St. Patrick and the Celtic world meets Appalachia at the 13th annual Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert, Dec. 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. in the Schwartz Center ($25 general admission; $20 for faculty, staff and alumni; $10 for students and children). This year, Grammy Award-winning banjo virtuoso Alison Brown and Riverdance composer Bill Whelan join top regional performers in the show. For tickets, visit the box office in the Schwartz Center or call 404-727-5050.

Produced by Emory’s W.B. Yeats Foundation under the direction of Winship Professor of the Arts and Humanities Jim Flannery, Celtic Christmas has been called by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “a rollicking yet reverend occasion.” The concert celebrates in music, dance, poetry, song and story the Christmas traditions of the Celtic lands and their connections with similar traditions in the American South.

In addition to Brown and Whelan, the concert features musicians and dancers representing the Highland Scots tradition of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, as well as a number of the traditional Southeastern performers, including Flannery (an Irish tenor and storyteller), the Buddy O’Reilly Band, fiddler Maggie Holtzberg, singer Barbara Panter, Welsh harper Kelly Stewart, the four-part harmony of Nonesuch, Highland pipers and dancers, Irish step dancers and Appalachian clog dancers.