Lehigh University Choral Arts will present its “traditional holiday present to the Lehigh Valley” this weekend when it performs its annual Christmas Vespers concerts on Sunday, Dec. 6, in Packer Memorial Church.
The ensemble of 200-plus singers will give two free concerts, at 4 p.m. and again at 8 p.m., in Packer Church. No tickets are required but seating is limited and people are urged to arrive early.
This year’s concerts, titled “The Best of Lehigh’s Christmas Vespers,” will feature favorites from past Vespers concerts, including Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, Russian liturgical music, and a medley of African-American spirituals arranged by Joe Jennings, the musical director of the Grammy Award-winning singing ensemble Chanticleer.
Choral Arts is directed by Steven P. Sametz, the Ronald J. Ulrich endowed chair in music and an award-winning composer and conductor. Sametz also serves as artistic director for the Princeton Singers, an elite a cappella ensemble.
Choral Arts consists of two mixed choirs. The University Choir, open by audition, has 60 members and draws students from all majors. The choir has toured China, Germany, and the Czech Republic, as well as Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Berlin; California; the Virgin Islands; Austria and Hungary; France; and East Asia. The choir has also been featured on National Public Radio.
The Choral Union, which is celebrating its 25th season, counts students, faculty, staff and community residents among its 150 members. It performs three times a year with internationally renowned soloists and symphonic orchestra, and its recent repertoire includes Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
The Vespers concerts also include Bible readings to celebrate the season. As in past years, the concerts will feature a new arrangement by Sametz of the 16th-century Christmas carol “Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming.”