The gothic-inspired style of The United Church stands out amidst the commercial buildings of 20th and G streets. Inside, GW’s Chamber Choir performed its holiday concert Friday and Saturday nights.
The 31 members of the GW Chamber Choir, led by conductor and Director of Choral Activities Matthew Mehaffey, sang Hanukkah and Christmas.
Students performed pieces “Silent Night” and “The Light of Ages and of Nations,” along with 14 other holiday pieces. Readings such as “The Hanukkah Story,” which centered around the simplistic theme of light, were also spoken at the concert.
“The concert is in the traditional format of a Candlelight Christmas Concert,” Mehaffey said. “However, given GW’s diverse student body, I thought it was important to celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.”
Students watched the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah and the four Christmas advent candles, symbolizing faith, hope, love and joy as a gesture of unity among faiths at GW.
Freshman Cara Chute, who is celebrating Christmas this year, came to support her roommate, a member of the Chamber Choir.
“There are not very many Hanukkah presentations; incorporating both is a real cool idea,” she said.
The choir’s rigorous practice schedule of four hours per week was well rewarded with approximately 70 people attending Friday night’s performance.
“I thought (the concert) was beautiful,” said Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Leslie Jacobson. “It was nice it had a spiritual tone. I find the ways that different religions echo each other is interesting.”
The GW Chamber Choir, a one-credit course, is open to students by audition at the beginning of each semester. Despite the choir’s recent formation in spring 2002, it has already preformed on international tours. Mehaffey said the group traveled to Romania and Bulgaria for a 10-day concert tour last summer.
GW Chamber Choir tenor soloist, freshman Stanley Kuo, said he was pleased with the performance and the number of supporters.
“We really had a positive turnout. It is nice he (Mehaffey) chose songs catering to both religions … as music goes beyond religious tones,” Kuo said.
The church’s acoustics echoed a joyous, yet reverent sound as the lights dimmed and each choir and audience member lit candles while singing “Silent Night” and “Rock of Ages” together.
Attendees were quiet as choir members silently filed off the stage. But the spell was soon broken with applause and cheers reverberating across the church.
At the show’s closing, audience members were encouraged to embrace the spirit of the season as the holidays draw closer and fall semester comes to a close. Voice and Character course students stood to read “It is that time again,” by Robin Leaver, in commemoration of the spirit of the season.
Students read, “It is that time again for holy days with different names … to celebrate in music and song … music that takes us beyond what words say to what they mean.”