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Lafayette’s choirs, orchestra, and brass ensemble and a guest harpist will join together to present “A Lafayette Christmas” 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in the Williams Center for the Arts.

The concerts are free and open to the public with no tickets required. Each show will conclude with a carol sing-along with the audience.

Nina Gilbert, director of choral activities, will lead the Concert Choir, Faculty/Staff Chamber Choir, and Madrigal Singers. Marka Young, director of string ensembles, will conduct the Lafayette Orchestra, while Thomas DiGiovanni ’96 will direct the Brass Ensemble with computer science major Ryan Tobin ’03 (Pennsburg, Pa.) serving as his student conductor.

Biochemistry major Janna Pachuski ’02 (Kulpmont, Pa.) and mechanical engineering major Jeremy Deaner ’04 (Madison, Wis.) will accompany the choir on piano. Rita Linck, an Easton harpist (and breeder of champion Russian wolfhounds), will provide accompaniment on several songs. She has studied with many of today’s masters, including Mildred Dilling, Alice Chalifoux, and Carol Hahn. Linck has performed on tour with Columbia’s Concert Artists series, the Atlanta Opera, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Lexington Philharmonic.

Fifty students sing in the concert choir and 13 perform as madrigal singers.

“We’re excited that the choirs have doubled in size compared to a year ago,” says Gilbert. “Earlier this year, I told the choir that my only concern was that we still needed to sound as hungry as we did when we were a small group, that we shouldn’t sound complacent just because we’re larger. I’m very pleased that we have maintained our urgent and hungry sound, which keeps the music exciting.”

Gilbert selected a wide range of songs, including “The Lord’s Prayer” in Czech by Leos Janacek; “Bogoroditse djevo,” a Slavonic version of “Ava Maria” by Arvo Pärt; and “De profundis,” a Psalm set in Latin by Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja. Other selections include “Diu Diu Deng” and “Riu Riu Chiu,” a Chinese folk song and a 500-year-old Spanish Christmas carol, respectively. “What’s fun about the Spanish carol is that it has seven different verses, and each one features a different student soloist,” says Gilbert. “I chose the soloists for the distinctive characteristics of their voices.”

The choir will perform two pieces by young composers: “Winter Calling” by 27-year-old Rebekah Griffin, which will be sung by the concert choir with accompaniment by Linck, and “Quid ploras mulier? (Why Do You Weep, Woman?),” an Easter “echo” song by 31-year-old Maxim Vladimiroff, who composed an original song that premiered at the choir’s spring concert. Gilbert hopes that both composers will attend one of the concerts.

A Latin round originating in Elizabethan England, “Emitte Lucem Tuam (Send forth your light)” will be sung for a candlelight processional.

“I’ve chosen music that shows off the variety of strengths that we have in our ensembles,” says Gilbert. “It’s like choosing a greeting card — you find something that’s published and therefore know there’s something universal about it, but it also suits your own situation.”

“I have been privileged to work with wonderful students this year through the string orchestra and in playing chamber music,” says Young. “In addition to our spring repertoire, we have been working on Handel’s ‘Concerto Grosso in E Minor,’ which we will be performing for the Christmas concerts. In addition, we will be accompanying the choir on two selections: (Hector) Berlioz’s ‘Shepard’s Farewell’ and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s ‘Messiah.’ Members of the orchestra will also be playing along with the carolers after the concert. It is bound to be a great time and I am thrilled to be working with such dedicated students.”

The Lafayette Orchestra is comprised of violinists Eui Young Chon ’04 and Nathan Tregger ’03 (soloists), Jennifer Cilia ’02, Shannon Sullivan ’04, Elizabeth Dethoff ’05, Julia de Graaf ’03, Kathryn Johann ’02, Carol Barbera, Jennifer Langoski ’03, Gregory Cole, and Xiomara Villalva ’05; viola players Lucas Girdley ’05, Lauren Bogar ’04, and Julia Handley ’05; cellists Laura Feeney ’02 (soloist), Emily Fogelberg ’05, and Stephanie Ingram ’05; bassist Emily Green ’04; flute player Karen Dunlap ’03; oboe player Sharon Shively; clarinetists Abigail Frueh ’04 and Annie Neumeister ’03; bassoonist Alanna Cleary ’03; trumpet players Jeremy Deaner ’04 and Kharl Newlander ’03; timpani player David Castelletti ’05; and continuo Tom DiGiovanni ’96.

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