Even in the down-pouring rain, people stood in line, umbrellas up, waiting, hoping for a ticket to Santa Clara University‘s sold-out holiday concert on Dec. 7. The 20th annual Festival of Lights, presented by the Music Department in collaboration with SCU Presents, was that popular.
“I’m hooked on this,” said Cupertino resident Kitty Moore, whose son David Moore was a singer. “I’d stand out in the rain to get a ticket even if my son weren’t in the choir. It’s that special.”
Mission Santa Clara, the beautiful venue for the concert, was bedecked for the holidays with small lights and candles surrounding the sanctuary. Three lighted Christmas trees stood on either side of the altar and red poinsettias in the center.
Santa Clara University (SCU) Music Director and Conductor Scot Hanna-Weir led the SCU Concert Choir and Chamber Singers — about 70 in all — in a program of sacred and secular music that was both known and new to the audience.
The program opened with “Procession” from Benjamin Britten’s 1943 A Ceremony of Carols. Three Nativity Carols (1998) by Stephen Paulus were accompanied by Robert Scott on the oboe and Ruthanne Adams Martinez on the harp.
Dan Cromeenes was the piano accompanist for a number of pieces, such as Dale Trumbore’s 2016 “In the Middle,” which ended with words understood by everyone, especially in Silicon Valley: “…Running out of time. Running, running, running…running!”
For the hushed and reverent finale, lights were lowered and the singers encircled the sanctuary. Each lighted the candle of the next singer until the audience was surrounded by candlelight. Then, with piano accompaniment, the choir softly sang the 1818 carol Silent Night as arranged in 2013 by Hanna-Weir.
“I’m stunned by the beauty of the music and the choral performance,” said SCU President Kevin O’Brien, S.J. “As university president, I’m very proud of our students for performing so well — and they do this in addition to their studies.”
Also on the program, Anton Bruckner’s “Locus Iste” (1869) was first sung in October at Father O’Brien’s inauguration as 29th president of SCU.
Fremont residents Sylvia Rodriguez and Robert Halupka Jr. were among a group of SCU alumni attending the concert. The couple met at a chemistry lab as SCU students and were married in the Mission.
“This brings back wonderful memories. It’s a great start to the Christmas season,” said Rodriguez. “It’s joyful to belong to this community.”
“How uplifting it is to see these young people create such beauty,” said Saratoga resident Janice Lenske, attending her first Festival of Lights.
“It really is kind of shocking that this is actually my job and I get to work with these incredibly talented students, making music all the time,” Hanna-Weir said. “I hope that whatever you do, you love it as much.”
The concert can be viewed at http://scu.edu/fol.
Hanna-Weir directs the Santa Clara Chorale holiday concert Resounding Joy Dec. 13 and 15 (www.scc.org), also at Mission Santa Clara.