Vespers makes its seasonal return


Five shows. Three choirs. One orchestra.

At 7:30 p.m. tonight, the acoustically sound walls of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church will echo music from four Augustana ensembles.

For the second consecutive year, the orchestra will accompany the choirs Angelus, Collegiate Chorale and The Augustana Choir at this year’s “Light of My Soul” Christmas Vespers concerts.

“I’m always excited to see the talent of the students and what they can do,” orchestra director Christopher Stanichar said. “It’s wonderful that the orchestra is able to accompany the choirs at a musical and spiritual event.”

New to Vespers this year is Augustana Choir director Paul Nesheim, who is excited to be a part of nearly sold-out performances.

“The atmosphere at concerts like these is just so electric and so intense, in a good way,” Nesheim said.

“What means the most to me is that there’s this potential to inspire and uplift those that come to hear and participate in an event like this.”

In past years the three choirs have combined to sing one final song, but this year the audience should expect to see the three choirs singing together, and also with the orchestra. These all-ensemble pieces include “I Lift Mine Eyes Unto the Hills” and “A New Magnificat.”

This year the service will end with an Augustana favorite.

“The very end of the concert the choirs will surround the audience and, unaccompanied, will sing a very beloved piece that has a lot of history at Augustana,” Nesheim said. “It’s the arrangement of ‘Beautiful Savior’ by F. Melius Christiansen.”

“It’s so cool to have all of the choirs sing together and I love hearing the orchestra,” junior Angelus choir member Allison Hay said. “That’s definitely the highlight of Vespers for me. It’s awesome to be a part of and it actually gives me the chills sometimes.”

The orchestra will begin its set with “Theme from Schindler’s List.” According to Stanichar, the opening piece is dark and emotional.

“As the service goes along it gets light and joyful,” Stanichar said with a reassuring smile.

The orchestra will be performing the piece “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”, a traditional Engligh carol. Senior Christopher Voegle will play the introductory solo.

“It’s not a difficult solo as long as I relax and don’t force it,” Voegle said. “I’ve been here when the orchestra hasn’t been involved in Vespers and it’s been really enjoyable since they started doing that. The choirs all sound really good and it’s really fun.”

The orchestra ends with “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker, which features the orchestra’s three harpists. “And there’s not anything happier than that piece” Stanichar said.

The performances begin tonight at 7:30 p.m., continuing at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. The final performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Rapid City.

The Rapid City trip will be the only regional travelling the choirs do this year because of the J-term European tour.

“Singing it over and over again for practice sometimes makes you numb to the message and meaning of the song,” junior Augustana Choir member John Doron said. “When we perform at an event like Vespers it reminds me of how special it all is.

“Seeing the audience react to hearing us for the first time is incredible. For them it is more than a concert but a sermon through song. Their reactions make it new all over again.”

Tickets are $15 for adults, Augustana students and general admission, and $10 for students K-12.