“Holidays at Hendricks” decks the halls with music

"Holidays at Hendricks" decks the halls with music

The annual concert features the talents of the university's choral and orchestral groups.
Published: December 9, 2019
Holiday at Hendricks concert at Syracuse University on Dec. 8, 2019
The annual Holidays at Henricks concert features the university's choral and orchestral groups.

On a chilly Sunday evening, students, university faculty, and local Syracuse residents shuffled across the snowy quad to the entrance of Hendricks Chapel, eager to celebrate the commencement of the holiday season, as well as the near-conclusion of the academic semester.

Holidays at Hendricks is an annual choral and orchestral concert, featuring the talents of the Hendricks Chapel Choir, Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra, Setnor Sonority, Crouse Chorale, and the Syracuse University Singers

 After a tumultuous last month on campus, the opportunity to create a space for community, inclusion, and gratitude was a far departure from what has become the day to day, particularly when considering Hendricks Chapel served as a podium for student protestors only four days ago. But the stark contrast between the environment within the walls of Hendricks tonight and the one which has consumed the campus for weeks served as a staunch reminder of why events like Holidays at Hendricks are so successful year after year.

Holiday at Hendricks concert on Dec. 8, 2019
One of the musicians plays bass while carefully observing the music sheet.

There is an irreplicable comfort in holiday carols, their inevitability, and joy. Major chords and bell tolls echo through the domed chapel while toddlers bounce on parents’ knees. The concert began with a booming rendition of “Deck the Halls,” performed by the combined ensembles. Familiar and bright, the song aptly sets the tone for the event. While the pieces featured ranged from traditional to contemporary, their central theme was consistent and clear. The concert was not only a celebration of the holiday season but of the reasons why communities always band together as the year comes to a close.

After “Deck the Halls” is “O Come All Ye Faithful,” performed by the Hendricks Chapel Choir, another traditional Christmas song. Afterward, the choir performed “Abreme Le Puerta,” a Puerto Rican carol and vibrant arrangement. The concert featured nearly twenty pieces, including “And Miriam Sang” (Shiru L’Adonia), a Hebrew piece in honor of Hanukkah, performed by Crouse Chorale, and a crowd-pleasing rendition of Sleigh Ride by the Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra. In honor of the University’s sesquicentennial, the combined ensembles premiered Celebration, written by VPA Professor Joseph Downing. The number’s lyrics commemorate milestones in SU’s history, from the University’s founding to the penning of the alma mater. 

The concert ended with the combined ensembles performing “Silent Night.” Each audience member was provided a candle at the beginning of the concert. As the lights dimmed, neighbors turned to light each other’s candles until the candlelight illuminated the chapel, flickering as the performers recessed. 

The concert was hosted by Rev. Brian E. Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel, and Jose “Peppie” Calvar served as the artistic director. 

Holiday lights lined the outskirts of the chapel
Holiday lights lined the outskirts of the chapel.