We have experienced a couple of musical events worth sharing this Christmas season.
Two of our YSA members sing with the University Singers, the student choir at the University of Virginia. This choir combined talents with the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra for the ninth annual Family Holiday Concert. It was held in the Old Cabell Hall on the lawn at UVA and it was amazing.
We were a little late getting tickets, so we sat near the top of the hall. Greek style columns are everywhere in the architectural design on campus. There were a dozen columns inside the hall. My seat was directly behind one of them. Our tickets warned of a “partial view”. Mine should have said “full view” – of a pillar.
The audio was spectacular, despite the omission of video. In some ways it was better. During one number, “O Magnum Mysterium”, a piece that sounded like angels singing, the conductor had the house lights turned down so the audience could concentrate on the music. I was way ahead of him on that one – visual darkness for me all evening. However, what I heard was the wonderfully uplifting sounds of orchestra and choir celebrating Christmas and the birth of the Savior.
The chair of the UVA department of music is an accomplished violinist. He has expanded his considerable talent to include bluegrass music. One of the numbers was called “A Holiday Hoedown”. It was one of those performances that you like so much, you feel bad you are unable to share it with everyone. Of course Handel’s “For unto us a Child is Born” and “Hallelujah Chorus” were the most moving and inspirational.
Our support of the students seemed to be appreciated. After the concert it was expressed with, “Wow, you came!” In reality it was our gain and added immensely to our Christmas season.
A second event was sponsored by the church. It was held in the large Airport Road building, where seats were set up much like stake conference. The program was called “Joy to the World.” It was an interfaith celebration of Christmas with music. There were performances from five groups and each group performed three songs. Unlike most services in the chapel, we were invited to show our appreciation with applause. It was well attended.
The program featured a variety of musical styles. A Methodist church supplied a very talented bell choir. A Baptist group provided hand clapping, foot stomping gospel music. There was a community choir from a neighboring county, followed by music from a flute duet. Each group performed well.
The last group was from the Waynesboro Stake. Half of those who walked to the choir seats were young people, seminary age or younger. My first thought was this is going to be a nice family presentation, lacking sophistication, but representing the importance we place on participation at all levels. I was right about everything but the “lacking sophistication” part. This choir was amazing.
All songs presented were medleys, some of them were original adaptations of instrumentals. One number featured all the young women with a solo by an angelic five or six-year-old girl. Another number was a round between male and female voices singing “Still, Still, Still” and “Silent Night”. In our humble opinions this group, featuring young LDS people, stole the show.
Perhaps the best part was the people from other faiths and investigators brought by members and missionaries. They were spread through the building and seemed to enjoy their involvement. Everyone there had to be impressed with the praises sung to the Savior born in Bethlehem.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)