by Alessandra Luedeking
On December 6, 7, and 8, the University Chorale of Boston College and Boston College Symphony Orchestra performed their “Christmas on the Heights” concert at Trinity Chapel on the Newton Campus to a sold out crowd. Their opening night saw an eager and spritely audience. The chapel was full to capacity within seconds of the doors opening. It was a chance for students burdened by the stress of impending final exams to relax and enjoy an evening of music and good cheer.
The repertoire included the traditional and time-transcending pieces such as “Silent Night (Stille Nacht), “Sleigh Ride,” and “Joy to the World.” The Chorale and Symphony Orchestra also infused the performance with cultural carols from different parts of the world, including the Ukrainian carol, “Carol of the Bells,” the Spanish carol, “Fum, Fum, Fum!” and the English carol, “God Bless the Master of this House.”
John Finney, director of both the University Chorale and the Symphony Orchestra, and conductor for the evening, invited the audience to sing along to the familiar carols, and on occasion, beckoned the audience to stand. One student in the audience remarked, “This is one of those occasions that brings together the young and old.” All around, people sang, bobbed their heads to the beat, and swayed to the music. Crowd favorites elicited booming applause and wide audience participation. These included “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and the instrumental Russian Dance from the Nutcracker Suite, “Trepak.” During one of these moving instances, Mr. Finney turned to the audience and remarked with great pride, “It’s moments like that which make me feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
The chapel was warmly lit with red candles ensconced in Christmas wreathes. The Chorale and Orchestra commanded attention in their black attire and red accessories. Soloists for the evening included Chorale President, Mariana Eizayaga; Vice President, Sydney Barada; and senior officers, Mary Naugler, Colin O’Neill, and The Torch’s own, Mark Hertenstein.
In the spirit of tradition, Mr. Finney invited all of the Chorale alumni present in the audience to rise and join the current members of the Chorale in the closing song, “Hallelujah!” from Handel’s Messiah. Ted Thibodeau, ‘89, was one such alumnus who summed up the feeling of the moment: “It’s coming home.” Among the alumni, the congregation was surprised to discover Clinton Kelly, ’91, in attendance. In his time at BC, he served as the University Chorale’s president and is recognized today for his role as co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear and, more recently, ABC’s The Chew. At the end of the concert, he stood and took photos with student fans.
If you missed this opportunity, the Boston College Symphony Orchestra will perform their Winter Concert on February 16 in Gasson 100 at 3pm, and the University Chorale will be performing their Winter Concert on February 22 at St. Ignatius Church.