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Popular "Celebration of Christmas" Dec. 5-6 to be taped for 2009 KBYU-Television special

More than 600 student performers from the combined choirs and Philharmonic Orchestra of Brigham Young University will fill the de Jong Concert Hall stage for the annual Celebration of Christmas Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 6, at 7:30 p.m.

A matinee performance will also take place Saturday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. Tickets sell out quickly and range in price from $11 to $16. To purchase tickets, call the Fine Arts Ticket Office at (801) 422-4322 or visit

Each performance will be recorded by BYU Television for a new Christmas special to air next year. Due to the television taping, no late seating will be allowed.

Joining the combined choirs will be Jennifer Welch-Babidge, BYU School of Music faculty member and former Metropolitan Opera soprano, who will be featured soloist for “O Holy Night” and “Glory to God” from Handel’s “Messiah.”

“I’m thrilled to have Jennifer singing with us,” said Jean Applonie, conductor of the Women’s Chorus. “You’ve just got to have a stellar voice singing ‘O Holy Night’ to make it a memorable performance.”

Other entries on the program include “Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella,” “Still, Still, Still,” “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.”

As in years past, Celebration of Christmas will consist entirely of time-honored, sacred music.

“Audiences have told us they love the traditional carols, so that’s what we’re giving them — old favorites in fresh, new arrangements,” said Rosalind Hall, director of the Men’s Chorus and Concert Choir. “We hope to convey the real spirit of Christmas with the music that means so much to so many people.”

“The goal is to keep Christ foremost in our celebration,” said Applonie. “We’re striving to capture the awe that exists in these carols, transporting our audience and helping them see and hear and feel what it would have been like to be there on that first Christmas.”

“Christ isn’t just a baby in a manger,” said Ronald Staheli, conductor of the BYU Singers. “We lose the real meaning of Christmas when we only hear words like ‘Jingle Bells’ or ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ during the Christmas season. ‘This, this is Christ the King whom shepherds guard and angels sing’ and so many other sacred texts teach us what is truly important.”

“I can hear the audience applaud throughout the night, but when the lights come on, in the end, I can see their faces smiling and some wiping tears,” said Michelle Biggs, a member of Concert Choir. “I know we have moved them. That is the whole point.”

“I believe music has such a special way of taking us out of our busy, cluttered lives and comforts us with a promise that things will be better,” said Clinton White, a member of Concert Choir. “I think all of the music that we are singing brings that same feeling and people will be changed by hearing it.”

For more information, contact Nathan Wright at (801) 422-5616 or at

Writer: Brady Toone

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