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OCU sets festive mood for Christmas Vespers concerts

Oklahoma City University will feature more than 220 instrumentalists and choral singers in the 43rd annual Christmas Vespers, set for Dec. 9-10 at First Presbyterian Church. The celebratory concerts feature OCU’s award-winning flute choir; seasonal organ music, poetry and readings; community singing of favorite carols; and a candlelit finale.

Christmas Vespers will be presented at 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 4 p.m. Dec. 10 in the church sanctuary at 1001 NW 25. The concerts will be the final Vespers performance led by the retiring Randi Von Ellefson, OCU’s director of choral activities since 2004.

Tickets ($15) are available for the live performances and livestream broadcasts at okcu.edu/tickets or by calling 405-208-5227.

“When Randi Ellefson arrived on campus, he reimagined our Christmas choral and orchestral concert into what we now know as Christmas Vespers,” said Mark Parker, dean of OCU’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music. “The event has become so popular with the community that we relocated from our 600-seat chapel to the epic 1,200-seat sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church. After 19 years of choral program leadership, we celebrate Randi's last Christmas Vespers as he heads into retirement at the end of this school year. He leaves a legacy of unparalleled music-making.”

Concert highlights include arrangements of carols for choir, orchestra and organ including “Magnificat” by Z. Randall Stroope, the prologue from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Hodie” (This Day), and an ethereal arrangement of “O Holy Night.”

The Rev. Carl Bosteels, pastor emeritus of First Presbyterian Church, will narrate the event.

The four major university choirs — Ad Astra, University Singers, University Chorale and University Chamber Singers — will sing under the batons of Ellefson and professor Tony Gonzalez. Professor Jeffrey Grogan will lead the Vespers Orchestra. University organist Melissa Plamann will perform on the church’s renowned 5,269-pipe, 91-rank Moeller pipe organ.

A musical prelude will be held 30 minutes before each concert, highlighting student organists and the OCU Early Music Ensemble. The OCU Flute Choir, named as the National Flute Association’s top collegiate flute choir for 2022, will also perform under the direction of professor Parthena Owens.

The concerts will conclude with “Night of Silence,” the traditional candlelight recessional inspired by “Silent Night.”

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