The Wartburg Community Symphony will feature familiar holiday music, a handbell choir and a family-friendly chamber opera at its annual Christmas concert, set for Saturday, Dec. 11, in Neumann Auditorium. 


Conductor Rebecca Nederhiser will offer a pre-concert talk in the auditorium at 1 p.m., followed by the concert at 2 p.m.  

“This concert involves 57 college and community musicians in the orchestra, 14 students in the Wartburg Handbell Choir and an 18-member cast in ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors,’” Nederhiser said. During the pre-concert talk, she will interview the “Amahl” director and some performers to discuss the psychology of bringing characters to life and the many components that go into staging an opera. 

The 2 p.m. concert will open with Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” followed by Sergei Prokofiev’s “Troika”from “Lieutenant Kijé” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleeves.” The Wartburg Handbell Choir, directed by Karen Black, will join the orchestra for Steven Amundsen’s “Joyous Noel.”  J. S. Bach’s “Sinfonia” from “Weihnachtsoratorium,” BWV 248, will conclude the first half of the program. 

Gian Carlo Menotti’s“Amahl and the Night Visitors,” conducted by Brian Pfaltzgraff and featuring vocalists from the Wartburg Opera Workshop, will follow a brief intermission. 

Based on Italian folk tales of the nativity and Epiphany, the short opera tells the story of a visit by the three kings to the home of a young disabled boy named Amahl, who lives in poverty with his widowed mother near Bethlehem. The gifts brought by the kings for the Christ Child become a temptation for Amahl’s mother, who is caught trying to steal a bit of the treasure. 

“What no one expects is a gift far greater than gold,” explained Pfaltzgraff, who directed a 2019 WCS performance of “Amahl”that featured life-size puppets. 

“We hope everyone who enjoyed the puppets will join us this year as live actors perform this timeless story of charity and miracles,” Pfaltzgraff added. 

Tickets to the concert and Wartburg Community Symphony Association memberships will be available in the lobby prior to the performance and can also be purchased online with no processing fee at www.wartburg.edu/symphony.  

Admission is $17 for adults and free for youth 18 and younger and Wartburg College students. Memberships offer complimentary tickets for the entire season and provide an opportunity to support the local symphony at levels that range upward from $50. 


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