Holiday Guide: A Chapel of Christmas Cheer

Erica Schmitt, Assistant Audio Editor

Alice Millar Chapel is hanging the lights and serenading the community on Dec. 4th for A Festival of Lessons and Carols.

STEPHEN ALLTOP: This can be a wonderful sort of oasis for their souls before they get into all of their exams and travel.

[Disk scratching]

ERICA SCHMITT: Did someone say oasis? Sign me up because I’m surely not there during exam season!

[Stephen Alltop choir music]

ERICA SCHMITT: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Erica Schmitt. This is not your average podcast — it’s a cheery one for The Daily Northwestern’s 2022 Holiday Guide.

ERICA SCHMITT: Director of Music at Alice Millar Chapel and conductor Stephen Alltop runs A Festival of Lessons and Carols, a Christmas music-filled performance free to all of the community every year at Alice Millar.

STEPHEN ALLTOP: It dates back to 19th-century England. This festival of lessons and carols where they have lessons — meaning Bible verses — that relate to the Christmas story and music that goes with those verses.

ERICA SCHMITT: Each year, the music alternates between modern and classical Christmas songs, with nine readings to accompany the tunes. This year the show is set for a sunny Sunday morning — Dec. 4 to be exact. Alltop said that if you need a break from finals week this is the place to be.

STEPHEN ALLTOP: I think that it just kind of kicks off the holidays. For so many of the people who come — it’s such a beautiful event, the music is so lovely, it’s just uplifting. The chapel has poinsettias in it. It’s visually — as well as musically — beautiful.

ERICA SCHMITT: According to Alltop, in the past, it was even more beautiful because of the glimmering glass windows shining down colorful patterns into the chapel.

[glimmering sound]

ERICA SCHMITT: Assistant conductor and choir member Drew Ritchie said choir members go beyond the Bienen community. The event is made up of a choir, a chamber orchestra and the professional Millar Brass Ensemble.

DREW RITCHIE: This choir is really unique because there are people that are studying voice or studying music in this choir. But also there’s lots of people that are not studying music or studying voice in this choir, so it’s very versatile and varied in that way.

ERICA SCHMITT: Alice Millar choir member and Weinberg junior Averi Muniz said the show holds a special place in her heart because it has become a tradition for her — this is her third year performing. She is especially pumped to sing a certain Christmas tune.

AVERI MUNIZ: I think universally throughout the choir right now, the favorite song is “There Is No Rose” by John Joubert. And it’s a beautiful, very light piece, and we’re going to be singing it around the entire congregation, like circling around them in Alice Millar chapel, which is something we do every year with one of our songs.

[music from “There is no rose” by John Joubert]

ERICA SCHMITT: One of the reasons Muniz urges people to go is because she thinks that since the onset of the pandemic, there is a lack of community in Evanston and among Northwestern students.

AVERI MUNIZ: I feel like being able to experience music together in the same space and a live performance is such a important, tangible experience that we haven’t had a lot of in the last two or three years.

ERICA SCHMITT: Ritchie said that he is excited to see the final product from all of their rehearsals and preparations.

DREW RITCHIE: There’s definitely a feeling of relief, as it’s a lot of work to put on a concert of this magnitude. And so when we get to the final performance on Sunday — whenwe had a dress rehearsal the day before, and we had rehearsals that week — and we’re all just kind of hanging in there with finals. It’s a big like relief, like “we made it” moment.

[choir music from Stephen Alltop]

ERICA SCHMITT: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Erica Schmitt. Thanks for listening to our special Holiday Guide episode. This episode was reported and produced by me. The audio editor is Lawrence Price, the digital managing editor is Angeli Mittal and the editor in chief is Jacob Fulton. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud. I hope you have a merry and bright holiday!

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @eschmitt318

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