Choral department performs 87th Annual Vespers


Carody Franklin

Baker University held their 87th annual Christmas Candlelight Vespers on Sunday, Dec. 3, in Rice Auditorium.

Story by Julia Sanders, Writer

Baker hosted its 87th annual Vespers concert on December 3, which featured a variety of Christmas music, both traditional and secular, performed by the choir, the orchestra and a brass ensemble of the band.

This was Choral Activities Director Ryan Olsen’s first Vespers to put together at Baker.

“Most schools have a Winter of Holiday concert. Sometimes they have to make them strictly secular, though. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve gotten to select most of the music, so I’m really excited,” Olsen said. “Often I’ve had pre-existing programs that I had to work within.”

While many universities have a Christmas or holiday concert, several of them have to stick primarily to secular music. However, Baker is able to feature traditional music because of its Methodist affiliation.

This ability to make the concert both secular and religious helps many people, religious and non-religious, feel connected to some part of it, according to Assistant Professor of Music Marci Ziegler.

“I think for our Christian students, it’s a nice way to start the holiday season, take a break from school work to get in the spirit and enjoy Christmas music,” Ziegler said. “For our non-Christian students, I still encourage them to attend if only to experience a different religion’s traditions.”

Considered a gift to the university, Vespers is performed each year and it’s normally one of the most attended concerts of the year.

“Vespers is the Music and Theater Department’s gift to the community and university as we start the holiday season,” Olsen said. “It is a welcome respite for the upcoming final exams and one of the most popular and fun concerts to attend and perform.”

In addition to performances from the students, this concert also featured performances from the voice faculty, specifically Olsen and Ziegler.

As this is the most attended concert of the year, preparation starts as early as October for all involved in the show. While Olsen says that it might be “really early to start Christmas music” it helps the choir “get into the season before everyone else.”

Senior Ian Caulkins has participated in Vespers for three years. Last year, the brass sectional was taken out. Although that disappointed Caulkins, he was excited that he got to participate in the show again this year and feels that it is an “important experience” for students to go to.

The brass ensemble played music chosen by Director of Bands Frank Perez and often played during choral transitions.

During the preparation and after the performances were finished, Olsen was pleased with all the work the students had put in, especially since some of the music was challenging.

“I’m really proud of how well the choirs have prepared for this concert,” Olsen said. “The Messiah selections are incredibly difficult and new to most of our students, and they are really doing a fabulous job with them.”