With one voice and one message, the Providence Chorale started off the Christmas season with three concerts this past weekend. Singing songs in a variety of styles, both modern and classical, and in a number of languages including Latin and German, every audience member was sure to find a song they enjoyed. Entitled “Christmas with Friends,” the program also included audience participation in many traditional Christmas carols. Beginning by announcing the birth of Christ with “Joy to the World” and “Gaudete,” meaning “Rejoice!” the concert proceeded to celebrate the season with songs of loud praise and others of quiet wonder like “Winter Night,” an evocative piece inviting the audience to “come and see” what the angels praised, even on a chilly and bitter winter night. It finished on a note of joy in “Psallite” and the modern “Sleigh Ride” before asking the audience if they knew the Savior in a rousing spiritual piece called “Have you Seen the Baby?”
Saturday night saw the Chorale perform two concerts in Orange County. Before singing at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church, the chorale joined the congregation in a buffet-style dinner. After the first concert the choir traveled to the church’s sister congregation, Huntington Beach United Methodist Church, and sang a slightly abridged concert for their annual Christmas dinner. The following night the Chorale worshipped with the Escondido United Reformed Church, singing the offertory and then repeating the “Christmas with Friends” concert after the evening service had adjourned. The audience and the singers alike enjoyed all three of the concerts.
Junior soprano Laurelinda Larkins mentioned that she enjoyed the first concert at fellow singer Mikayla McFarland’s home church, saying “It was cool to talk to the people at her church before and after the concert. It really was like a concert with friends.” Most students agreed that the best concert was the last one at Escondido URC, Sophomore Marisa Branson explained, “We were most comfortable at the last concert and we didn’t make any super noticeable mistakes.” But even when the chorale made mistakes, the singers commented that they did learn how to keep going and to laugh at them later. The students also appreciated the overall experience; “It’s an awesome way to build community and friendships,” claimed Freshman soprano Danielle Dirksen. “The fellowship gained by singing with fellow Providence students is priceless,” added Laurelinda, “It is a great experience to blend our voices and communicate a beautiful message to our audience.” Mentioning a beautiful moment of seeing an elderly woman in the audience wipe a tear off her cheek, senior alto Jana Crum reflected that she loved the thought “that the chorale could be a tool used by the Holy Spirit to touch… hearts and move souls to joy and thankfulness over the gift of the incarnation.”