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“A Concert for Advent” on Dec. 7

Saint Xavier University Chamber Singers and Flute Choir to perform

Chicago (Nov. 15, 2007) – Join the Saint Xavier University Chamber Singers and Flute Choir for a “Concert for Advent” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, in the McDonough Chapel, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago.

Under the direction of Professor Martha M. Morris and Jan E. Bickel, D.M.A., the University Chamber Singers and Flute Choir ensembles will collaborate to present music appropriate for the Advent season, including a performance by the Chamber Singers of W.A. Mozart’s Dixit Dominus, and Magnificat, K. 193, accompanied by pianist, Daniel Surma.  

This two-movement choral work, written for the Cathedral in Salzburg, comes from Mozart’s setting of the prayers for Vespers and will be performed in the original Latin. This exciting and energetic setting includes both homophonic and contrapuntal writing for the voices and offers a graphic illustration of the sacred words.

The featured work of the concert is Camille Saint Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, conducted by Jan Bickel. It will be performed in English in an arrangement by Martha Morris for traditional vocal choir with soloists and accompanied by flute choir. Vocal soloists for this work will include Sopranos Andrea Caruso and Kojelyté Johnson, Mezzo-Sopranos Amy Cameron and Carina Spendel, Tenor Thomas McNichols, Baritone Joseph Renardo and Bass-Baritone Jared Horne.  

The Christmas Oratorio was composed in 1863 and was Saint-Saëns’ first major choral work. This work was originally scored for vocal soloists, chorus, harp, strings and organ with the text taken from various biblical sources ranging from the gospel of St. Luke to the Psalms to Old Testament prophecies. The Christmas Oratorio opens with a prelude subtitled “In the style of Sebastian Bach,” harkening back to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. 

This opening prelude sets the scene for the Christmas story: its lilting pastoral quality creates images of the shepherds tending their flocks in the fields. In the remaining movements, the vocal soloists take turns representing different characters such as the narrator of the story or the angel who announces the birth of the baby Jesus. The chorus represents a multitude of angels singing to the glory of the Lord. The final movement of the piece, which follows the model of old French Christmas songs, is a virtual hymn of praise of all creation in the presence of God.

This newly arranged accompaniment features a full flute choir and includes the e flat soprano flute, and the traditional C flute, as well as alto and bass flutes and the original organ part as written by the composer.  

“Our flute choir is composed primarily of talented Saint Xavier University flute students with the addition of some very talented community member flutists who join us regularly for rehearsals and performances,” said Morris. “These will be very new and exciting sounds for those who have never heard a flute choir, and the excellent acoustics and comfortable seating of the University’s McDonough Chapel will make this a glorious beginning for the Christmas season,” said Bickel.  “We welcome the entire community to this concert for the season!”

Professor Martha M. Morris is director of Music Education and Instrumental Studies in the music department, where she is currently in her 30th year as a faculty member. Jan Bickel, D.M.A. is Director of Vocal Studies, and is currently in her 25th year as a faculty member in the music department.  The two have successfully collaborated on many concerts, and have recorded a compact disc of the University Chamber Singers with flute choir in works specifically composed or arranged for the combined ensembles.  Bickel and Morris are both long time Beverly residents.

The concert is open to the public. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and visiting students. Parking is free and plentiful on campus near the McDonough Chapel, which is located at the east end of the campus. Admission is free for all SXU students, faculty and staff with a valid University ID. For more information or to make seating reservations, please contact the Saint Xavier University music department at (773) 298-3421.


Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving more than 5,600 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News & World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.


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