School of Music to present Christmas tunes

By Liz Appling

Christmas at Baylor, the seasonal concert and longstanding tradition for the School of Music, will return to Baylor’s campus this weekend, remaining one of the most popular holiday events on campus.

Alan Raines, director of choral activities, spoke fondly of the tradition, describing the event as a way for the School of Music to share its numerous talents with the rest of the Baylor and Waco community.

“It’s a gift to the community from the entire School of Music. Almost every student in the School of Music is involved,” Raines said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for people to come and hear what goes on.”

The concert includes more than 300 students from the university’s choirs, with additional music performed by the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, led by Stephen Heyde.

Adding to the seasonal theme is a candlelight procession of the choral musicians, making the showcase a “visual feast” to also be experienced, Raines said, especially for the newcomers to Christmas at Baylor.

Entertaining audiences from both the aisles and the stage, the four choirs that make up the combined choir — A Cappella Choir, Concert Choir, Men’s Chorus and Women’s Chorus — will perform their individual pieces, transitioning during audience-inclusive carols, Raines said.

The audience carols include songs such as “We Three Kings,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Joy to the World.” Raines said the concert selections are primarily chosen to appeal to the audience, thus representing an eclectic mix of holiday favorites.

Stephen Gusukuma, a graduate assistant for the School of Music, said one of the great things about this event is it includes all the choirs as well as singers from a new project in the works for the School of Music.

“This concert will be the premiere for Bella Voces, a select women’s ensemble that is in the works to become a permanent choir next year,” Gusukuma said, noting the group is mostly composed of music majors, with a handful of George W. Truett Theological Seminary and non-music majors as well.

This concert, along with the introductory concert during Parents Weekend, is one of the only times in the year that all of the choir programs are featured.

“We try to find something that everyone in the community will enjoy, from classical music to traditional Christmas carols to more contemporary pieces,” Raines said.

Christmas at Baylor will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in the Jones Concert Hall of the McCrary Music Building. Tickets are sold out, but those interested in attending the event should call the School of Music ticket office at 254-710-3571 to join the event’s waiting list.