Vespers concert rings in the holiday season

The Topeka community welcomed the annual Holiday Vespers with a concert full of holiday cheer Sunday, Dec. 9. This performance took place at White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus at 4 p.m. This event was recorded by KTWU and will air its first showing on television starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17 and will continue Dec. 18, 19 and 25.  The Holiday Vespers concert had performances from Washburn University Choir and Singers, Washburn University Symphony Orchestra, Washburn University Stella Durrance Honor’s Brass Quintet and Washburn University Percussion Ensemble.

The annual concert began with a pre-concert in the lobby of White Concert Hall with a featured performance from Washburn University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Theodore Musick.

Following the pre-concert, audience members made their way to the seating area in White Concert Hall. Almost every seat was taken as the Washburn University and Topeka community came together to listen to holiday music.

The holiday concert continued with the annual processional of “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” a traditional hymn arranged by Daniel McCready. The processional is a staple for the annual holiday concert. After the processional, the concert opened with a performance of “Glow” by Eric Whitacre, performed with the orchestra and Washburn Choir.

Later, Washburn Singers sang a selection of songs, including “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” arranged by John Ferguson and “Joseph, Dearest Joseph” by Normand Lockwood.

After the Washburn Singers, the audience witnessed two performances by the orchestra, including “Clarinet Candy” and “Bugler’s Holiday” by Leroy Anderson. A clarinet quartet performed “Clarinet Candy,” including Shelby Castor, Kristina Hernandez, Dakota Jeter and Liz Fleischman.

Shelby Castor, junior music education major, performed with the clarinet quartet. She thought the performance was a success.

“We had a lot of fun up there,” Castor said. “It’s a really fun piece to play and it was especially fun that night.”

Castor enjoyed seeing White Concert Hall decked out in holiday decorations.

“The decorations, the lighting, the snow, it totally transformed White [Concert] Hall, and it made everything look so much more special,” Castor said. “It didn’t just seem like a normal concert, [because of] the fact that all of the seats were full.”

Following the orchestra, the annual reading of the Christmas story was read for the audience and then followed by a familiar carol called “Night of Silence” arranged by John Ferguson.

After this arrangement, the brass quintet performed five pieces for the audience, including “Frosty the Snowman,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Here We Go A’Wassailing” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.” These classics added a familiar spin to the holiday music that was performed.

After the brass quintet, Washburn Singers performed two more pieces for the audience including “Ding Dong! Merrily on High,” arranged by John Leavitt and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” arranged by Hawley Ades.

Later, Washburn choir and orchestra performed a holiday favorite, “White Christmas,” arranged by Hector MacCarthy. Near the end of this piece, the audience was invited to sing along and the orchestra performed another holiday classic, “Sleigh Ride,” by Leroy Anderson. This piece really put the audience in the holiday mood.

Following the orchestra, the audience joined in singing three holiday classics, including “Away in a Manger,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” and “Up on the Housetop.”

After the holiday carols, two more pieces were performed, including “Star Carol” by John Rutter and “Hallelujah” by Ludwig van Beethoven before leading the recessional to “Personent Hodie,” arranged by Lara Hoggard.

Sienna Haynes, senior music performance major, performed with Washburn Singers and Choir. She enjoys performing the Vespers concert.

“It is so cool that my colleagues and I get to be a part in this huge spectacle. This particular Vespers was special to me as it is my last here at Washburn,” Haynes said. “I have been doing it for four years and my family loves watching the concert in person and on TV every year. I will definitely miss singing with the choir, orchestra and organ.”