By Elizabeth Hartmann | Echo
Christmas has exploded onto campus. As the residence halls are oozing with pine trees, glittering lights and mistletoe, the music department is also kicking off the holiday season with Sing Noel.
This year, Sing Noel's theme is "Christmas Around the World." The past several years, including this one, have emphasised on international students and their languages, highlighting Bahamian Junkanoo, Mexican dance, African drums and ubuntu, Polish and Hungarian folk music, German traditions and Korean formal dance, among others.
This celebration of different cultures through music gives a unique and beautiful light to this holiday season and encourages people to look at the bigger picture during the holiday season.
"Music permeates our global culture," senior Emily Zilz said. " Music transcends barriers of language, age, gender, ideology, race or creed. Music has the power to help us feel, cope, express and share. I hope that, when people leave Sing Noel, they feel seen and heard, experience peace and can rest in the joy of the Lord at a deep, soul level."
Some of the songs featured this year will be "Keresimesi Qdun De O," a Nigerian nativity song;
"Carol of the Bells," sung by Taylor Sounds; "What Sweeter Music," by British composer, John Rutter; and "Waltz of the Flowers," from Igor Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet. Kyle Romine ('00) will be directing the Woodland High school women's choir who will be performing "This Christmastide."
This year's Sing Noel will have several other exciting features including, a Nigerian song that freshman Lauryn Terry, and sophomores Daniel and Patience Korrie choreographed and a piece performed on handbells by Chorale members.
Starting in May, JoAnn Rediger, professor of music and director of Taylor Chorale and Sounds, begins selecting the repertoire for Sing Noel while the Chorale officers design and lead the preparation of the music and spoken text. Over the summer Rediger prays over each piece and says it must move her deeply in order for it to be chosen to be a part of Sing Noel. Each student uses their talents and assigned job for the ear to prepare the program; many work with the maintenance, media and film departments.
Once all the words and notes are memorized, Sing Noel is only about 30 percent complete. They spend the rest of their rehearsals, developing the music into and even more meaningful and beautiful experience.
Senior Ryan Jones always looks forward to rehearsals. He enjoys that even after a bad day, he has that hour doing what he loves with others of like mind. Rehearsals also reach beyond singing by incorporating devotional time and reflection of God's grace and love into the practices.
Rediger has been leading the Taylor Chorale for 22 years, but since she is retiring at the end of the academic year, this is her final Sing Noel.
"The students have always been my greatest blessing, as individuals and as a choir," Rediger said. "I am not looking forward to the last piece, since this will be my last Sing Noel. But I will be moved and gratified by each student's individual effort and final performance."
The students also adore their director and are quick to describe how encouraging and uplifting Rediger is.
As they work together one final time to present this year's Sing Noel Performance to the Taylor community, they are passionate about creating an evening that will leave the audience and fresh sense of God's universal and personal grace given in the nativity.
"'Merry Christmas,' says a small piece of the cosmic initiative God has taken on our behalf," Rediger said. "Sing Noel helps us get outside of our small community of faith, to taste the world-wide kingdom."