Most college students could use some holiday cheer in the middle of a hectic last week of classes. Students at Elizabethtown College had an opportunity to relax and get into the holiday spirit at the annual Fine and Performing Arts Holiday Concert Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 11:00 a.m. in Zug Memorial Hall’s Recital Hall.
Assistant professor of music Dr. Anne Gross was in charge of the concert. “The purpose of the concert is to give faculty, students and staff an opportunity to take a break from the rush and hassle of the final week of the semester and to listen to some music and readings connected to Christmas,” Gross said in an email interview. “We hope that the audience will leave the concert refreshed, relaxed and ready to finish the week.”
All of the performers were students and faculty from the College’s music and theatre departments. Before the concert started, several pairs of students played holiday songs on a piano as people walked in. Seniors Kory Hilpmann and Vicky Metal played “Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney. Junior Rachel Suter and sophomore Giuliana Rinaldi played “Last Christmas” by George Michael. Sophomore Sara Palatnik and junior Charles Welker played John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas/War is Over.”
Several students read winter- and Christmas-themed poems throughout the concert. Junior Amber Mangabat opened the concert by reading “Advent” by Mary Jo Salter and first-year Dylan Warner read Joseph Brodsky’s “Nativity Poem.” Junior Katherine Campbell read two poems: “The Oxen” by Thomas Hardy and “The Magi” by William Butler Yeats.
First-year Francesca Artus read Sara Teasdale’s poem “Winter Stars.” Besides her own performance, Artus enjoyed junior Justin Pechulis and sophomore Steven Roldan’s piano rendition of “Sleigh Ride,” which closed the concert.
“‘Sleigh Ride’ is one of my favorite winter songs,” Artus said. “In high school, we played it every year in orchestra, so I was really looking forward to this rendition.”
Several groups of students played Christmas and winter songs on a variety of instruments. Many of the performances were slow and relaxing, with the exception of “Sleigh Ride,” which incorporated a whip sound effect that startled audience members before making them laugh.
A saxophone quartet consisting of first-year Hali Eckenrode and seniors Cody Thompson, Dani Colona and Tamantha Drexel played three well-known Christmas songs: “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Jingle Bells.” Some audience members tapped their feet or hummed along. Thompson later joined senior Gillian Engelbrecht, first-year Darriana Ratcliff and adjunct professor Faith Shiffer to play “What Child is This” and “Silent Night.”
Some students performed in more than one act. Sophomore Jennifer Noyd played the cello in a duet with senior Jairo Barradas-Lopez and in a string quartet with sophomores Julie Pham and Jennifer Jackson and junior Amanda Pawlewicz. Senior Sarah Kreider and junior Abigail Marchione sang “En Natus est Emmanuel” by Michael Praetorius with a group of students before singing Antonio Vivaldi’s “Laudamus te” as a duet.
Senior Samantha Eisdorfer attended the concert for her repertoire class. Her favorite performances were “Sleigh Ride” and Noyd and Lopez’s duet, “Nocturnes for Cello and Guitar.”
“I think Justin and Steven’s interpretation of ‘Sleigh Ride’ was exciting,” Eisdorfer said. “I’m not a fan of holiday music, so this was a tough recital for me to go to, but they made it fun.”
A couple faculty members got in on the holiday spirit as well. Director of theatre and dance and associate professor of theatre Dr. Michael Swanson read from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Later, associate professor of theatre Richard Wolf-Spencer read Anne Porter’s poem “Noel.”
Whether they were performing or watching, the concert provided everyone in attendance with an escape from the stress of the end of the semester and the holiday season.
“It was really nice to get in front of everybody and share in the winter magic,” Artus said.