Festival of Lights: MC’s Musical Tradition / Gracie Lee
MC Singers is performing Festival of Lights on Dec. 2-4, at 7:30 p.m. in Provine Chapel. Director of Choral Activities Dr. Damion Womack is directing the Singers in their preparation for the holiday tradition that began in 1986 under the tutelage of Dr. Richard Joiner. Womack joined the MC music faculty in September 2021 after the departure of Dr. Mark Nabholz. His doctorate degree in choral conducting gives him the necessary abilities to lead the MC Singers and Choctaw Chorus.
The program incorporates music of the season with Scripture verses. Every year, the proceedings end with the song “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” while the choir leaves the chapel holding candlelight. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for faculty, and $5 for students.
It is beloved and anticipated by students every year.
“I’m most looking forward to simply sitting in the presence of the choir as they sing Christmas hymns. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and choral music really speaks to me,” Maria Guay, a sophomore, said. “I’ve been watching videos of the Festival of Lights since I came to MC last year, and I’m so excited that I’ll get to experience it in person.”
Stephen Griffin, a senior, joined Singers in the fall of 2020, shortly after students returned to hybrid classes during COVID’s peak. “That fall we were not able to have Festival of Lights and recorded a ‘Songs of Thanksgiving’ concert instead. So, this year will be my first and last Festival of Lights,” Griffin said. “My favorite thing about Festival of Lights is seeing how the music is able to bring people together and unite us around a celebration like Christmas. Christmas is really a special time of year, and Festival of Lights helps it to feel even more special.”
A big part of the event’s nostalgia lies in the pieces that the choir performs. It incorporates old spirituals and new arrangements of classic carols. This year’s selection includes old favorites, like Morten Lauridsen’s “Sure on This Shining Night,” as well as Rachmaninoff’s “Bogoroditse Devo”- a Russian Orthodox piece which translates to “Rejoice, O Virgin.”
Regardless of any past experience in choral activities, students can audition for and enroll in Singers each semester. Rehearsal times are, tentatively, Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 12:00-12:50 p.m. and Tuesday/Thursday at 1:30-2:45 p.m.
“Because I’m a transfer, this is my first time. I’ve never performed in it before, but I am excited for it,” Ambie McCoy, a music major, said about Festival of Lights. This annual event symbolizes MC’s anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth.
After 2020’s dim Christmas festivities, Griffin is excited to have a voice in the Lights’ return. “Festival of Lights is probably one of MC’s most treasured traditions. I might go as far as to say it is the centerpiece of Christmas celebrations at MC,” he said. “It was always special for me just getting to be there, and I’m so, so honored that I get to be a part of it now.”