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Vespers concerts set to spread holiday cheer

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More than 250 instrumentalists and choral singers will join forces Dec. 8-9 for Oklahoma City University's 44th annual Christmas Vespers. The celebratory concerts feature full orchestra, organ music, poetry and Scripture readings, community singing of favorite carols, and a finale with candlelit singers encircling the congregation.

The event will be presented at 8 p.m. Dec. 8 and 4 p.m. Dec. 9 in First Presbyterian Church, 1001 NW 25th St. Musical preludes begin 30 minutes prior to the concerts.

Operatic mezzo-soprano Catherine McDaniel, professor of voice and diction at OCU’s Bass School of Music, is this year’s narrator.

The concerts mark the OCU Vespers debut of Julie Yu, who is in her first year as the university’s director of choral activities.

“What a beautiful way to celebrate the start of the Christmas season as we join together for concerts performed by 259 talented OCU musicians,” Yu said. “The term ‘Vespers’ was inspired by the Latin word for ‘evening star.’ We invite you to join us as we are led by that evening star, which guides us in our lives and our art. May the music we present shine a warm light into this holiday season for everyone.”

Concert highlights include arrangements of carols for choir, orchestra and organ and works including the opening movement of Bach’s setting of “Magnificat”; “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomás Luis de Victoria; “This Little Babe” from Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”; and “My Lord Has Come” by Will Todd.

OCU’s four major choirs — Ad Astra, University Singers, University Chorale and University Chamber Singers — will be led by Yu and music professor Tony Gonzalez.

Jeffrey Grogan will lead the OCU Vespers Orchestra. University organist Melissa Plamann will perform on the Gothic Revival church’s 91-rank Moeller.

This year’s musical prelude will highlight student organists and the Oklahoma City University Flute Choir, which was selected by the National Flute Association as the nation’s top collegiate flute choir in 2022, under the direction of professor Parthena Owens.

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

Tickets ($15) for in-person performances and livestreams are available online at okcu.edu/tickets or by calling 405-208-5227.

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