By Brittany Sterling Young
The Christmas concert season has not been slow at all this year at CUA. Kicking off this year’s round of concerts was none other than the Annual Christmas Concert for Charity at the Basilica of the National Shrine. This concert featured not only the CUA Chamber Choir and University Singers, but also the Symphony Orchestra. The program began with the Chamber Choir performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s renowned “Gloria” which echoed throughout the grand venue, accompanied by the instrumentalists. Then, John Gross’ “See Amid the Winter’s Snow”, arranged by Dr. Timothy McDonnell of the Rome School of Music, was performed delightfully, and was followed by a popular choir-only piece, also arranged by McDonnell, “Gaudete.” To the large audience’s delight, the program continued with the world premiere of a piece by the Composition Division’s very own Valencio Jackson, named “Hush.” Soft and graceful, the melody of this new piece soared across the Basilica. Then, the female members of the choir and orchestra performed Johannes Brahms’ “Ave Maria,” another audience favorite. The concert closed with a series of other well-known pieces such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Felix Mendelssohn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and finally “Hallelujah!” by George Frideric Handel, for which the audience stood and cheered loudly. It is exciting to note that this concert will be broadcasted on EWTN in the near future!
Then, on Wednesday, December 6, The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music’s Piano and Composition Divisions performed all of the Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) Op 15 by Robert Schumann in a stunning program. These pieces, written for solo piano, encompass the different phases of Schumann’s childhood to include his time at home (Movement 8: “At the Fireside”) and even his time asleep (Movement 7: “Dreaming”). The unique mood of each piece came across, as a peaceful attitude was conveyed during these two calmer pieces, and an excited spirit was brought about by other movements like “An Important Event” (Movement 6). The audience thoroughly enjoyed the unique character of each movement.
But Schumann’s Kinderszenen came with a twist. These were also played along with pieces recently composed by students in the Composition Division. Each one was based on scenes from around CUA. While Schumann reflected on his childhood with these thirteen pieces, the Composition students reflected instead on the things they love about their CUA experience and the various, heartwarming holiday scenes from around campus.
As for upcoming concerts and events, on Friday, December 8th, the Piano Division, specifically Dr. Kaltchev’s studio, will present an evening of piano music beginning at 7:00 PM in St. Vincent’s Chapel. This is a perfect event to wind down before finals week. Then, on Saturday, December 9th, beginning also at 7:00 PM, Centennial Village will be hosting the Village of Lights, a wonderful holiday festival including horse and carriage rides, ice skating, ornament making, cookie decorating, and— of course— live, classical music.