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65th annual Christmas Festival features new choir director and modified program


65th annual Christmas Festival features new choir director and modified program

GREENVILLE, Pa.—The 65th annual Christmas Festival, “A Light Unto The World,” will be performed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 in the William A. Passavant Memorial Center.

The festival is produced by the Department of Performing Arts and Campus Ministry and Spiritual Life and is free and open to the public.

Assistant Professor of Music Julie Neish, D.M.A., will conduct the Thiel Choir, the Thiel College Chamber Singers and the Thiel College Handbell Ringers. Neish joined Thiel College, a leading liberal arts college in northwest Pennsylvania, as the Director of Choral Activities this summer and became the seventh conductor in the history of the choir. Intertwined with the concert will be readings from Luke, Isaiah, and John by students in Spiritual Life.

“This year, the Festival marks many new beginnings. We are thrilled to have Dr. Julie Neish serving as our new Director of Choirs, joining the Thiel family and continuing our proud Lutheran choral tradition,” Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Pete Rydberg, Ph.D., said. “We also have incorporated elements from our ‘Lessons and Carols’ service with Sunday’s celebration of the season. We hope folks will attend and take advantage of the unique opportunity to sing along in certain parts of the program.”

The Christmas Festival features performances by the Thiel College Wind Ensemble—conducted by Director of Bands and Instructor of Music/Performing Arts Andrew Erb—and a vocal prelude of “Ola Gjeilo” by the Thiel Choir. Those in attendance will hear renditions of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Joy to the World,” “Carol of the Night,” and “O Holy Night,” among others.

A special offering will be held at the event to support the Thiel Choir and Thiel Band’s tour to Greece in the spring of 2019. The donations will serve as scholarships for our students. A reception will take place at the Robinson Theatre immediately following the concert.

Since its founding in 1953 by Dr. Marlowe W. Johnson H’02, the Thiel Choir has continued to train women and men in the Lutheran choral tradition. The choir is composed of approximately 40 students from all academic fields. Through the years the Thiel Choir has presented concerts in the midwestern, eastern and southern regions of the United States and Canada and has performed on nine European tours most recently to Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Finland in 2004 and to Austria and northern Italy in 2008. The choir completed a tour to Ireland in May 2016.

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Thiel College is an independent college founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. The College is also home to a Master of Science in speech-language pathology, a Leadership Master of Business Administration and a Management Master of Business Administration. Both master’s degree programs offer innovative and accelerated five-year paths which allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The speech-language pathology program also has an accelerated 15-month graduate-level program. The M.B.A. program also has a 12-month post-graduate program. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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