WCU’s Wells School of Music Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Annual Holiday Program with Dec. 11 Concert

holiday music concert
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West Chester University’s Wells School of Music celebrates the 100th anniversary of the annual Holiday Program with a celebratory concert on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 PM in the 1,200-seat Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, located in the Philips Memorial Building at 700 South High Street.

Associate Professor and Associate Director of Choral Activities Ryan Kelly directs the program. General Admission tickets are $12.

“Our Holiday Program is a time-honored tradition for now 100 years,” said Kelly. “This year, West Chester University also celebrates its sesquicentennial. We invite all members of the West Chester community to celebrate this momentous occasion with us and to jump-start their holidays with joyful and melodic music. You’ll hear recognizable vocal, choral, and orchestral holiday favorites, as well as pieces that are programmed with the season in mind.”

The Holiday Program began on Dec. 18, 1921, as the “Christmas Carol Service.” The Senior Girls’ and Junior Girls’ Glee Clubs would sing choral and sacred music and process down the hall of first Old Main Chapel and then the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall with lit candles and adorned in white gowns.

Participating in the concert are many of the Wells School of Music’s ensembles, including the WCU Symphony Orchestra, the Criterions Jazz Ensemble, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Cantari Donne, and Mastersingers.

An event highlight is a rendition of “O Holy Night,” sung by the winner of the vocal honors competition, who is chosen by a faculty panel. It was traditionally awarded to the best female soloist, but now spotlights either a male or female vocalist. This year’s winning vocalist is Coatesville’s Sydney Szwarc, a senior Music Education and Vocal Performance major.

To honor the 100th anniversary, this year’s program also includes a commissioned work by San Francisco composer David Conte of a festival setting of “Gloria” for choir, brass, and organ. Sándor Kádár, the organist at First Presbyterian Church in West Chester, will accompany on the historic Skinner organ.

Limited parking is available across and along the street just outside the Philips Memorial Building. Parking is also available in West Chester’s M Lot, just a short walk south. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly encouraged. 

All faculty, staff, students, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when indoors.