A Concordia Christmas thrills audience at renowned Segerstrom Center

The Concordia Courier

Concordia Irvine

By Eva Prewitt and Olivia Highstreet | 12/6/2022

On the evening of Dec. 5, the Concordia Music Department hosted The Thrill of Hope: A Concordia Christmas at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

The event served as the culmination of several months of work by nearly every performing musical group on campus, including the Concordia Choir, Concordia Symphony Orchestra, Concordia Wind Orchestra, Concert Handbells, Donne di Canto, Men’s Chorus and Master Chorale. 

In addition, Dr. Michael Busch, Dr. Jeff Held, Dr. Clarissa Shan and Dr. Alex Guebert served as conductors for the various ensembles that performed during the concert. 

Busch, who served as the artistic director for the concert, said that the keynote event was a “musical message of hope for a weary world.”

“My desire is that our audiences not only be entertained by the music of Christmas, but enjoy a meaningful encounter with the spirituality of the season,” Busch said. “We celebrate the mystery of how the God of heaven and earth came to be born here, in this place. He brings life and light into this world of darkness, changing depression and sadness into hope and joy.”

The groups performed pieces from across the globe, meant to spread the gospel and the message of peace. From traditional Christmas pieces, such as the “Wexford Carol,” to more recent pieces like Dan Forrest’s “Let the Stable Still Astonish,” to still others from around the world, such as Alberto Taule’s “Toda La Tierra,” the repertoire was varied and, as the title suggests, full of hope for the future and of the message of Christ. 

“The song that stuck out to me was ‘Let the Stable Still Astonish,’ because of the idea that Christ would submit Himself, an omnipotent, all-powerful God, to the darker fouler rooms of a manger and our hearts for the sake of bringing us peace, which is really what the Christmas Season is all about,” said senior Ben Singer.

This concert also marked the end of a musical journey of fellowship for many seniors across the ensembles, including Singer. 

“A lot has changed for me, thinking about how this is the last Christmas I’m singing with the people all around me, the last time I get to appreciate the genius of Dr. Busch and Dr. Held, and just performing in a capacity so large, it’s probably not an opportunity I’ll get to have again,” Singer said when asked about the differences he felt between this performance and last year’s concert. 

“Similarly to Ben, this is my last Christmas concert,” said senior Rebekah Caesar. “It’s kind of crazy reflecting on four years of singing with all these people. It’s almost the end, the end of an era.”

However, this performance isn’t quite the final production being released in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Following the concert, Concordia’s Music Department will be releasing a Christmas special on PBS SoCal, with stations across the country playing The Thrill of Hope: A Concordia Christmas, as a special broadcast. 

The Christmas special will include sections of the performance from Segerstrom while also releasing never before seen recordings of ensembles performing certain pieces, such as “Wexford Carol” and “Angels we have Heard on High.”

The special will premiere on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. on local PBS stations, and will continue being broadcast alongside last year’s Christmas Special, Repeat the Sounding Joy: A Concordia Christmas.

For more information, and to check your local PBS station for availability, go to https://www.pbs.org/show/all-bright-concordia-christmas/, and have a wonderful Christmas!



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