Campus prepares for Christmas performances

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Santa’s not the only one coming to town in 2016. Performances across campus provide students and community members with an opportunity to feel the Christmas spirit this season.

 

Christmas Around the World

Jaren Wilkey/BYU
Almost 200 student performers take part in Christmas Around the World. Dancers in the folk dance program and musicians in the folk music ensemble program combine for a multicultural performance. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Christmas Around the World is the longest-running Christmas production at BYU, according to director Jeanette Geslison. It started in the Smith Fieldhouse 57 years ago.

The International Folk Dance Ensemble joins with other students in the folk dance program to perform dances from across the globe. The dances themselves aren’t necessarily Christmas themed, but Geslison said she tries to find ways to thread Christmas elements into the concert.

“What a perfect time of year to come together to celebrate each other’s similarities and differences and try to gain a better understanding of the world we live in,” Geslison said. “It’s a very unique opportunity for the community and for the campus audience to be able to have this experience, of being able to travel around the world in your seat in one night.”

There will be a festival in the Marriott Center concourse one hour before each show. The festival will include live music, international ethnic games, henna art and vendors selling roasted almonds, French crepes and other food. Visitors can meet the dancers, see their costumes up close and experience a multicultural Christmas feeling, Geslison said.

Christmas Around the World takes place Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3, with both  matinee and evening performances on Saturday.

Celebration of Christmas

(BYU)
Rosalind Hall conducts the BYU Concert Choir. Celebration of Christmas features the Concert Choir, BYU Singers, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus and BYU Philharmonic Orchestra. (BYU Photo)

Celebration of Christmas is another long-standing tradition at BYU. The performance features BYU’s auditioned choirs and Philharmonic Orchestra. Each choir does a small set of their own pieces, then all the singers combine for a few pieces on an epic scale. BYU Singers director Andrew Crane said listening to the concert is a hard experience to forget.

“It’s quite exciting, because you have about 600 students singing, all throughout the de Jong Concert Hall, both on stage and in the audience and in the balcony, and the full orchestra playing,” Crane said. “It’s always a really exciting experience to get that kind of stereophonic effect.”

Most of the choirs’ repertoire is traditional, celebrating the sacred importance of Christmas, but they will also perform favorites like “Sleigh Ride” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and a few non-traditional pieces.

This year two faculty members will join the concert as performing guest artists. Robert Brandt will sing as an operatic baritone, and Ray Smith will play jazz saxophone.

The choirs and orchestra will perform Celebration of Christmas on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3, with both a matinee and an evening performance Saturday.

Tuba Christmas

(Steve Call)
Tuba Christmas has been a tradition in Utah for 37 years. Director Steve Call said he calls it the “low point” in the audience’s Christmas holiday, because the brass instruments play the lowest notes. (Steve Call)

Tuba Christmas is an ongoing tradition across the United States. Between 40 and 50 professionals, amateurs, university students and high school students bring their low brass instruments and gather in BYU’s Madsen Recital Hall for a one-hour Christmas concert. The ensemble plays jazzy Christmas music and well-known favorites, even inviting the audience to sing along with some carols. Some performers decorate their horns or wear elf costumes.

Director Steve Call said Tuba Christmas is a unique, festive and upbeat performance that is hard to find anywhere else.

“If you see a lot of really big brass instruments, you’re going to think it’s going to be kind of loud and brassy and blasty, but it’s not,” Call said. “It’s really smooth and mellow, and people are always amazed at what it sounds like.”

The free concert will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3 at noon.