Celebrating Christmas

by Kate Sullivan '15

For more than 30 years, Azusa Pacific University and the surrounding community have ushered in the holiday season with the musical extravaganza, Celebrate Christmas. Hosted by the Azusa Pacific School of Music, the beloved annual event features traditional carols and Christmas songs including “O Holy Night,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” “Away in a Manger,” “Joy to the World,” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” This year includes reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke as well as a presentation by the College of Music and the Arts’ Department of Theater Arts. Celebrate Christmas began as an University Choir and Orchestra concert in the early 1980s.

As the music program expanded, the concert involved more ensembles, and the venue location changed to accommodate the growing audience. Now Celebrate Christmas boasts three performances, featuring more than 400 musicians, in the Lake Avenue Church’s 1,000–person plus sanctuary. The nine ensembles include APU’s University Choir and Orchestra, Bel Canto, Men’s Chorale, Chamber Singers, Symphony, Jazz Ensemble, Brass Choir, Herald Trumpets, and Oratorio Choir.

Every year, the Office of University Advancement reserves 250 seats for friends of the university, including APU alumni. These special-invitation guests attend a dinner after the performance. This year’s dinner includes remarks from Stephen P. Johnson, DMA, dean of the College of Music and Arts, as well as APU’s Executive Vice President David E. Bixby, Ed.D. “Celebrate Christmas is a great tradition to kick off the holiday season, drawing APU and the local community together,” said Dennette Miramontes, senior director of development and estate planning. “People come back year after year.”

To get APU faculty and staff into the spirit of the season, the School of Music will challenge their colleagues' knowledge of holiday tunes. On December 1, the first 10 to perform a verse of a Christmas carol will receive two free tickets to the event. The contest takes place from 10:30–11:30 a.m. and 2–3 p.m. in the music office, located in the Warren Building. Celebrate Christmas is December 5 at 7:30 p.m. and December 7 at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. at Lake Avenue Church, located at 393 N. Lake Ave., in Pasadena. Ticket prices range from $2.50–$38.50, and can be purchased online or at the Felix Event Center Box Office.