You’ve probably heard the Christmas lyrics “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus,” but this past weekend, the Rowan University Orchestra performed something a bit more highbrow. The performance was called “A Classical Christmas.”
The first half of the show was dedicated to Benjamin Britten’s play “Saint Nicolas.” This work was performed in nine acts and focused on the birth of Saint Nicolas, his many journeys and his death.
The first act introduced Saint Nicolas and implored him to speak to people across time. Afterwards, the audience was told of Saint Nicolas’ birth, “From his mother’s womb he sprang and cried, ‘God be glorified!’” Then, stories of Saint Nicolas’ childhood were interspersed with the words ‘God be glorified,’ until an adult Saint Nicolas was heard.
Afterward, stories about Saint Nicolas devoting himself to God, his journey to Palestine and how he was chosen as the Bishop of Myra were relayed.
One area that caught the audience by surprise was the act titled “Nicolas and the Pickled Boys.” In this act, Saint Nicholas found himself at an inn with a group of fellow travelers. When the travelers invited Nicolas to eat with them, he declined and stopped the travelers from eating when he realized the meat they were consuming came from three murdered boys.
With this information, Nicolas said, “Timothy, Mark and John, put your fleshly garments on,” and the boys came back to life and sang, “Alleluia.”
Rounding out the first half of the show was, “The Death of Saint Nicolas.” Here, the audience heard about Saint Nicolas and his impending death. For Saint Nicolas, he was filled with joy and eagerness to finally meet Jesus.
The second half of the show featured “In Terra Pax – Christmas Scene.” Here, soprano performer Lauren Athey-Janka and baritone performer Colin Levin performed. Levin narrated a story about how an angel appeared before a group of shepherds and shined the glory of God during Christmas.
Taking the role of the angel, Athey-Janka talked to the shepherds.
Veronica Chepigan, a senior music composition major who plays alto two, described the work that went into this concert.
“It’s a lot to sing but it’s worth it, just bringing it all together with the orchestra,” Chepigan said.
Also performing was Dean Mason, a senior music composition and musical performance major who plays the contrabass.
For Mason, the concert was a big success.
“We studied half a semester, rehearsing for [this] concert,” Mason said. “It was big because we had the chorus and orchestra [and] it brought out a large crowd.”
At the end of the concert, the audience gave a standing ovation.
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