On December 2nd, Gustavus Adolphus College will present its 43rd annual Christmas in Christ Chapel service, titled Ubuntu, Jesu: From the Cradle of Humankind to the Ends of the Earth. This year’s theme was inspired by Chaplain Brian Konkol’s experience living, working and serving in South Africa. Brandon Dean, director of The Lucia Singers and Choir of Christ Chapel, explained that the idea was first suggested about two years ago. “[Chaplain Konkol] came up with the artistic vision for Ubuntu, and we just kind of ran with it from there and have really tried to serve him and his vision.”
This year’s program is a perfect example of Gustavus’ unique Christmastime programming. “I’m amazed at the integrity and depth of content that we continually present at Gustavus. It’s a completely different event compared to most other similar colleges,” Dean emphasized. “I went to Luther and experienced their big Christmas festival. It’s a really neat concert, but it’s definitely a concert. The thematic element of Gustavus’ Christmas program is what really sets it apart for me from all of the other performances I’ve been a part of.” He then explained how each year’s theme inspires the specific repertoire, readings, and other program components, such as the dance component and visual scenery.
In addition to his insight into the tradition and importance of Christmas in Christ Chapel, Dean also shared some personal thoughts and feelings about this year’s program.
How much time do you put into preparation for Christmas in Christ Chapel?
“Preparing for C in CC is definitely the hardest thing I have to do every year. Just like every year, this year I spent my summer going through truckloads of music trying to find just the right piece for each of the choirs that also fit with and enhanced the theme of the program.”
What is your favorite song in this year’s program?
“Oh my… I couldn’t even pick one, honestly, because each one is fitted to a specific section of the program. I feel like each song is perfect for that specific moment in the overall flow of the program.”
Are there any songs that you are particularly excited or nervous to conduct?
“I’m a little bit nervous about the African Sanctus that Chapel Choir is doing because it adds some technology that we haven’t used in the past. That will add a layer of complexity, but in a good way, and I’m confident that we’ll do it well.”
What are you most excited about for this year’s program?
“We love to sing for each other every day in rehearsal but when we get an audience there and get to share our music with them for the first time, it’s really electrifying. To see and hear about the joy from the audience after the performance is really touching. There are also memories every year during ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful.’ You look into the audience and see people with tears in their eyes singing along. Seeing everyone singing and praising God together is really gratifying. I look forward to that every year.”
Christmas in Christ Chapel performances will take place Friday, December 2nd at 7:30 PM, Saturday the 3rd at 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM, and Sunday the 4th at 3:30 PM in Christ Chapel. Tickets can be purchased at http://gustavustickets.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event_listings.asp.