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When a popular seasonal music event took to the road, even a Chicago venue was not big enough to hold all the holiday happiness!

Festival of Christmas Takes Chicago

Music lovers in the Chicago area received a rare holiday treat on Dec. 1, 2018.

St. Norbert College took its beloved Festival of Christmas on the road for one magical night – no small feat considering the event includes 150-plus performers from four instrumental ensembles and three choirs.

The 23-year-old tradition is revered on campus, but this is the first time the show has been offered elsewhere.

“The trip to Chicago itself was a crazy 48 hours from playing the festival here at SNC, to the drive down and performance,” says conducting student and Festival of Christmas performer Jason Holz ’20. “Overall, it was a very busy but very fulfilling trip. I heard lots of comments on how unified the performance was between groups and this I feel is a great example of communio here at SNC.”

The concert at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, was presented free of charge to a sold-out audience of close to 700, with SNC president Brian Bruess ’90 opening the concert with a Christmas welcome. The show tied Christmas music together with reflective holiday readings and Bible verses. Eric High (Music) says his colleagues teamed up with Admissions and Mission & Student Affairs to take the show on the road. “This is our way of celebrating communio – bringing our most popular holiday program to people, one that features all of our large ensembles, to ring in the Christmas season,” says High, who expects the successful event to return next year.

For Chicagoland alumni like Tim Delaney ’69, the combination of beautiful Christmas music and a chance to reconnect with St. Norbert College was too good to pass up, especially right in his own backyard. “The concert was really quite lovely,” says Delaney, who once sang in SNC’s choirs. He and his wife especially loved the finale, from Handel’s “Messiah,” which included all of the performers. “It was very impressive, very well done. I have some concept of how much work goes into those kinds of evenings, and it was awfully nice of the students to take an active role.”

While that gratitude is appreciated, performers like Holz found the experience to be more like a gift than a sacrifice. “There’s a certain feeling you get when you are traveling with your fellow musicians,” explains Holz. “The lights passing by through the windows, the collective laughter throughout the bus and the overwhelming sense of belonging is something I’ll never be able to forget. The act of performing with so many people you are close to is an opportunity very few people get throughout their lives, and I am so very thankful that I have had that chance.”

Dec. 19, 2018