St. Olaf celebrates the season with annual Christmas Festival
For many people, the celebration of the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season begins as they wind their way through the college’s majestic limestone buildings during the first weekend of December to attend the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival.
The theme of this year’s Christmas Festival, which will be held on campus December 5–8, is “A New Song of Grace and Truth.”
Christmas Festival Artistic Director Anton Armstrong ’78We felt that with all the conflict, all the strife in the world, what we wanted to bring was something that was fresh, something that would give hope, something that would give people a reason not just to celebrate the holiday season, but something they could take with them throughout the course of the year.
“We felt that with all the conflict, all the strife in the world, what we wanted to bring was something that was fresh, something that would give hope, something that would give people a reason not just to celebrate the holiday season, but something they could take with them throughout the course of the year,” says St. Olaf Christmas Festival Artistic Director Anton Armstrong ’78, who also conducts the renowned St. Olaf Choir. “We’re hoping that people will find a sense of care and compassion — and that maybe if in a very small way, we help them to be a bit gentler, a bit kinder, a bit more loving, then what we’ve done is a really good thing.”
First held in 1912, the St. Olaf Christmas Festival is one of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States. Led by five conductors, it features more than 500 student musicians who are members of the college’s world-renowned choirs and orchestra.
The festival features a rich repertoire of classic Advent and Christmas compositions, familiar carols, hymns from around the world, and contemporary pieces from a diverse range of composers and cultures, offering music that both celebrates the Norwegian American history of the college while also highlighting beautiful works from around the globe. It traditionally closes with the hymn “Beautiful Savior.”
The festival is regularly broadcast across the United States on public television and radio, and has been featured nationally in publications such as TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.
The college will offer the live stream of the Sunday, December 8, performance to viewers for free of charge. Find information about tickets and register for the live stream at stolafchristmas.com.