St. Olaf Christmas Festival

(Rochester, N.Y.) -  The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is one of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States. Started in 1912 by F. Melius Christiansen, founder of the St. Olaf College Music Department, the festival features more than 500 student musicians who are members of five choirs and the St. Olaf Orchestra. Tune in to Classical 91.5 on Thursday, December 24 at 12 p.m. for this 100-year-old tradition.

Participating choral ensembles include the St. Olaf Choir, conducted by Anton Armstrong ’78; Viking Chorus and Chapel Choir, both conducted by Mark Stover ’01; Cantorei, conducted by James Bobb; and Manitou Singers, conducted by Therees Hibbard. The St. Olaf Orchestra is conducted by Steven Amundson. Each group performs individually and as part of a mass ensemble.

As the years have passed, this Christmas program has really caught on and has expanded into a festival of word and music that includes five choirs, a symphony orchestra, five conductors, two pastors and the 4,000 audience members who are invited to sing along. St. Olaf's festival is one copied by college music programs all over the country.

"It's really a team effort" said Steve Amundson, the conductor of the St. Olaf Orchestra. "We tend to pick a few pieces that we're excited about doing. And as we look at the texts of the pieces we're doing, our creative energies kick into high gear and we start thinking about words, images and ideas, and in doing so we come up with lots of ideas. We liked the idea of wonder and gift and Christ as the gift to the world and it just conjures up lots of images visual and otherwise." This year's performance is another one sure to left audiences spellbound. 

This program is being featured as part of WXXI's Holiday Programming. For a listing of more programs this season, click here.


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