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courtesy of Amanda Smith Senior Creative Content Writer

“A Lenoir-Rhyne Christmas” Marks 10 Years of Holiday Spirit in Grace Chapel

Lenoir-Rhyne University will host the annual celebration and musical showcase “A Lenoir-Rhyne Christmas” from November 30 through December 2.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Grace Chapel as the home of one of the university’s most popular holiday traditions, a concert that brings campus and community together for a time of seasonal sacred choral music, instrumental music, and carol singing. Four performances are scheduled on campus in Grace Chapel:
•Thursday, Nov. 30 – 7:30 p.m.
•Friday, Dec. 1 – 7:30 p.m.
•Saturday, Dec. 2 – 5 and 7:30 p.m.

The Saturday evening performance at 7:30 p.m. will be live-streamed and accessible at Guests for all performances are encouraged to be seated 15 minutes before the event starts.

“Alpha and Omega Be”
The title for this year, “Alpha and Omega Be,” is inspired by the Grace Chapel rose window, one of the building’s focal points. Appearing in the right and left panels of the window, Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, symbols of the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the beginning and end of all things.

“Since it’s an anniversary year for Grace Chapel, we chose to be inspired artistically by the building itself,” said Ryan Luhrs, Ph.D., associate professor of music and director of choral activities. “Over the years, the chapel’s inviting warmth and acoustics have contributed to this event’s overall impact for students and audiences alike. That is worth celebrating.”

In turn, the program will begin with a world premiere of “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” a new string quartet setting of the hymn by acclaimed composer Gwyneth Walker, written for this year’s performance. Another important piece on the program, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” was composed by the Rev. Michael Costello, a 2002 LR sacred music major and graduate and a 2006 master of divinity graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS). Costello serves as the cantor at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois. Originally composed in 2022 for piano and choir, Costello provided a new orchestration of the anthem specifically for this year’s A Lenoir-Rhyne Christmas.

The program will feature familiar Christmas carols and choral music, including Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” and Dan Forrest’s arrangement of “See amid the Winter’s Snow” as well as multiple selections from Spain, a tribute to the choir and brass ensemble’s performance tour there last May. A love offering will be received during the performance.

Performers will include the university A Cappella Choir, College Singers, Brass Ensemble, a string quartet, the chapel’s pipe organ and additional student instrumentalists. In addition to Luhrs, faculty members collaborating on the performance include Jeana Neal Borman, collaborative artist and pianist; Cory Westby, organist and university cantor; and the Rev. Todd Cutter, university pastor and director of spiritual life. Christopher Nigrelli, DMA, professor of music, leads the brass ensemble.

Seating is limited, and tickets are required. Tickets are free for all concert dates and may be picked up at the LR Box Office in Cromer Center at the rear mezzanine beginning Wednesday, November 1. The LR Box Office will be open weekdays 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. for as long as tickets remain available. Tickets may also be reserved by telephone at 828.328.7206.

A standby line will be available at each show for those who cannot reserve a ticket. Although no guarantees can be made, historically, all in the standby line have been seated. Those with unused tickets are strongly encouraged to return them to the box office. Returned tickets will be made available to the public one hour before each performance.