The Master’s College Music Department’s Nov. 30 performances of Come Christmas Sing began like any other concert.
In the foyer of the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, ticket holders mingled and then filed into the theater. Backstage, musicians and singers silently made their way into position.
The lights came up and the stage jumped to life. In an instant, the entire theater was filled with the sounds of Joy to the World.
A typical start, but not a typical performance – certainly not to the more than 200 TMC students, faculty and alumni on stage. To them, the college’s annual Christmas concert is a ministry, an outreach.
More than that, it is an opportunity to worship the Lord in song – and invite others to do the same.
The 2012 rendition of the annual Come Christmas Sing concert marked the school’s 29th annual. But it was the first time the music department performed it off campus. The new venue at College of the Canyons offered a welcome opportunity to take the show into the community.
For about 90 minutes, the school’s singers and orchestra filled the theater with a musical celebration of the Lord’s Incarnation. The Collegiate Singers – TMC’s 130-member choir – moved the audience with renditions of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and The Hallalujah Chorus. The Concert Handbell Ensemble dazzled with a medley of Carol of the Bells and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. The vocal group, Majesty, sang Night Divine and the Women’s Chamber Choir performed Lord of Life & Love and Infinite Lord.
There were piano ensemble pieces and orchestral movements, jazz quartet performances and a song for the audience to sing. There was, as there always has been, cheesecake waiting for guests at the intermission.
One of the highest points was the Collegiate Singers and Orchestra’s magnificent treatment of Donald McCullough’s three-part composition, Canite Tuba. The melancholy and triumphant blend of choir and orchestra carried the audience through the themes of 1) the world’s need for a Savior, 2) the mystery of the Incarnation and 3) the good news of the gospel.
There were pauses during which you could hear your heartbeat. There were crescendos that rang the rafters. It was an orchestral celebration of Christ – the joy of Christmas in the form of musical notes.
In the hours before the show, TMC Music Department chair and conductor, Dr. Paul Plew, was extolling his musicians. They had just finished a practice run-through of one of the concert’s numbers.
“Give me more energy,” he said. “You’ve got to light this place up!”
They did … and then they did.