by CAROLINE LEYES '18
This past Wednesday, December 7, and Saturday, December 11, Saint Ursula Academy’s Music Department presented the annual Christmas Carol Concert in the chapel. The SUA chapel was decorated with poinsettias and candles for the friends and family attending. Each night parents and grandparents filled the audience, along with several students and siblings.
The concert began with an opening procession of “‘Twas in the Winter Cold” including all the performing acts. The SUA music students entered the chapel singing and holding lights as they took their places in preparation for their performance.
SUA’s Vocal Ensemble, SUAVE, began the night with a wonderful performance directed by Ms. Backherms ‘73. They sang four songs, including “I Need a Silent Night” which featured soloists, Caroline Feldkamp ’17 and Sophia Heller ’17. This was Caroline's final Christmas Concert, so it was an emotional moment for her and her mother. "My favorite part of the concert this year was watching my mom in the audience. When I sang the first solo in "I Need a Silent Night", which is her favorite Christmas song, she started to cry and smiled at me. My mother rarely cries, so I knew then that she must be proud."
The Carol Concert continued with the Freshman Chorus also directed by Ms. Backherms. Their set included four songs: “Silent Night”, “Night of Silence”, “Christmas Star”, and “Angels We Have Heard on High”. During their last song freshmen Jenna Turner, Kat Sweeney, Sophia Bolinger, Reese Talty, Evie Thomson, Molly Schoeny, Audrey Oehler, and Mady Kauffman each played tone chimes.
The third act was the Guitar Ensemble directed by Mr. Brown. The four guitarists played four songs including a classic, “Christmas Time is Here”.
Up next was SUA’s Concert Choir directed by Ms. Jennings ‘09. Their group of fourteen performed their creative twist on “White Winter Hymnal” and three other Christmas songs. Tory Noble ’18, a member of the concert choir, thought everything went smoothly during their performance. “After the concert, our class watched a video of our section and we had to grade ourselves on different aspects for the concert.” She added, “It feels really nice to perform for the Saint Ursula community and see people’s families there smiling at us as we sing songs. It is such an honor for me to be able to take part in this tradition that our community is so involved and interested in.”
The last individual group to perform was SUA's Symphony Orchestra, SUASO, directed by Ms. Backherms. Their set included Sarah Geraghty '18 playing violin, Rachel Hardin ’17 and Madison Hardin ’20 playing flute, Christy Powell ’17 playing oboe, Elizabeth Uhl ’19 playing clarinet, and Ashley Davis ’17 playing the cello.
The Christmas Concert ended with combined ensembles playing traditional songs “Noel” and the recessional “‘Twas in the Winter Cold”.
The 2016 Christmas Carol Program continued a wonderful tradition of the annual concerts held at Saint Ursula Academy in the chapel since the 1930s. Before one Christmas season at SUA, young students asked the Ursuline Sisters to sing carols for their friends and family that had visited for the holiday season. The tradition has continued ever since. The Carol Program has changed over time from including the entire student body to the specialized vocal and musical groups. Some of the songs that are sung are SUA Christmas mainstays, like “Noel”, “‘Twas in the Winter Cold”, and “In the Glow of the Candles”. Ms. Backherms seemed delighted with this year’s concert. “It is truly a privilege to be a part of continuing such a beautiful tradition as the Christmas Carols in the Chapel which have been a part of St. Ursula for more than 100 years!”