NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State University Chamber Choir will present a candlelight service of “Lessons and Carols” Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 145 Church St. in Natchitoches. Admission is free and open to the public. Dr. Burt Allen will direct the Northwestern choir. Dr. Greg Handel is the organist and Kallie Stephenson is the soprano soloist. Jordan DeRouen will also perform on organ.
This is the 22nd consecutive year in which the NSU choir has presented this service. According to Allen, the “Lessons and Carols Service” is based upon the century-old tradition established at Kings College, Cambridge, England, where it is performed every Christmas Eve to standing room only crowds and broadcast worldwide.
“Lessons and Carols” consists of nine lessons, readings for both the Old and New Testament of the Bible, all related to the Advent and birth of Christ. Each Lesson is followed by the choir singing one or more carols whose text relates to each of the readings. During the carols, altar servers light a variety of candles, which remain lit throughout the service. Gradually, the church is transformed from darkness into light as the Service concludes in a festive recessional.
The Chamber Choir, founded in 1987 by Allen, is a highly auditioned choral ensemble that specializes in performing music suitable for smaller choirs. Membership is made up of students at Northwestern State, many of whom are music or music education majors, but several have majors in other fields including business, social work, social sciences, and theatre. The Chamber Choir has established an outstanding reputation for choral performance in the gulf coast region. They have been invited to sing for several professional conferences sponsored by the Louisiana Music Educators and the Louisiana Choral Directors Association. Most of the Chamber Choir was in the NSU International Chorale that toured England in the spring of 2010.
In 1997, they appeared in solo performance in Carnegie Hall in New York City. The Chamber Choir has also joined forces with the University Concert Choir to form the NSU Symphony Chorus and perform major works for chorus and orchestra including the Brahms “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony,” Poulenc’s “Gloria,” the Bach “Magnificat,” the Mozart “Requiem,” Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms,” Franz Josef Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War,” Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and many others.
For more information on Northwestern State’s choral program, go to music.nsula.edu/choral-and-vocal-studies.