The 76th annual Wartburg College Christmas with Wartburg performance, “Night of Wonder,” will showcase the talents of more than 300 student musicians through music, art and word at concerts Dec. 2-4 in West Des Moines and Waverly.

Tickets sales begin Tuesday, Nov. 1, for shows Saturday, Dec. 3, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. in Wartburg College’s Neumann Auditorium, as well as a performance Friday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines.

This year’s concert, designed and directed by Lee Nelson, will feature a world premiere by the internationally recognized composer Elaine Hagenberg of Des Moines. Her new piece, “Love’s Pure Light,” combines a new melody with the traditional melody of “Silent Night.” The piece was commissioned in memory of Wartburg alums Paul and Anne Mardorf.

“The theme ‘Night of Wonder’ was inspired by a poem by Pastor Paul Hoffman and beautifully set to music by Wartburg faculty member Dr. Karen Black. The text calls the listener to ponder the sacred wonder of that starry Bethlehem night when Mary and Joseph’s dauntless faith exemplify wondrous hope, love and grace,” said Nelson, Wartburg’s Patricia R. Zahn Chair in Choral Conducting. “The text and music provide a beautiful lens in which the audience can experience the Christmas story through songs that highlight the wonders of that sacred night.”

Eight Wartburg musical groups will perform: the Wartburg Choir, Wind Ensemble, Castle Singers, Ritterchor (a bass clef ensemble), St. Elizabeth Chorale (a treble clef ensemble), Kantorei (a liturgical choir), the Handbell Choir and Kammerstreicher (a chamber orchestra).

Nelson will direct the Wartburg Choir and Ritterchor. Jeff de Seriere, visiting assistant professor of music and interim director of bands, will direct the Wind Ensemble. Nicki Toliver, associate director of choral activities, will conduct the Castle Singers and St. Elizabeth Chorale. Karen Black, cantor and college organist, will play the organ and lead Kantorei. Rebecca Nederhiser, assistant professor of music, will direct Kammerstreicher.

A new mural designed by Chris Knudson, a 2001 Wartburg graduate and the college’s director of marketing and communication, features the Bethlehem Star in a magical design that inspires feelings of reflective wonder and calls both the musicians and the audience to the manger.

This year’s production is made possible, in part, through the support of Sukup Manufacturing.

Tickets are $17-23 for all Waverly performances and $25 for the West Des Moines performance. Receptions will be offered in Waverly on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. for an additional cost. Concert and reception tickets can be purchased online at www.wartburg.edu/christmas, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays at the ticket office in Saemann Student Center or by calling 319-352-8200 during ticket office hours.


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