The St. Olaf Christmas Festival has become one of the nation's most cherished holiday celebrations. Due to the pandemic, this year's presentation draws from archival performances, featuring more than 500 student musicians, for a special hourlong radio program.
Started in 1912 by F. Melius Christiansen, founder of the St. Olaf College Music Department, the festival which takes place at the college in Northfield, Minn. includes hymns, carols, choral works and orchestral selections celebrating the Nativity. The theme of this year's archival presentation is "All Earth Is Hopeful." It will feature the St. Olaf Choir, the St. Olaf Orchestra, the St. Olaf Cantorei, the St. Olaf Chapel Choir, the Manitou Singers and the Viking Chorus, performing as individual groups and as a massed ensemble.
St. Olaf Orchestra conducted by Steven Amundsen; St. Olaf Choir conducted by Anton Armstrong; Cantorei conducted by Allyss Haecker; Chapel Choir and Viking Chorus conducted by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu; Manitou Singers conducted by Therees Hibbard.
Steven Amundson: "Rejoice!" (excerpt) - 2018 St. Olaf Orchestra (SA)
Alberto Taulé (arr. James E. Bobb): "All Earth Is Hopeful" - 2019 Massed Choir & Orchestra (JB)
Mack Willberg: "Light Dawns on a Weary World" - 2016 Massed Choir & Orchestra (AA)
Jacob Narverud: "Lunar Lullaby" - 2018 Viking Chorus (TW)
Traditional Kenyan (arr. Shawn L. Kirchner): "Wana Baraka" - 2019 Chapel Choir & Orchestra with William Arnold, Sophie Koehler, Jack Reynertson, Anders Olson, percussion (TW)
14th-century carol (arr. Orjan Matre): "Eit barn er fodt i Betlehem" - 2018 Cantorei and instrumentalists (AH)
Ariel Ramirez: "Gloria" (from Missa Criolla) - 2017 St. Olaf Choir (AA)
Kim André Arnesen: "I Will Light Candles This Christmas" - 2018 St. Olaf Choir & Orchestra (AA)
Michael Engelhardt: "And Suddenly" - 2019 Manitou Singers with Jonathan Thomas Madden, piano; Anders Olson, drum set; Max Voda, electric bass (TH)
Daniel Kantor/Franz Gruber: "Night of Silence"/"Silent Night" - 2018 Massed Choir and Orchestra (TW)
Steven Amundson: "On Christmas Day" - 2017 St. Olaf Orchestra (SA)
Andre J. Thomas: "Gloria" (from Mass: A Celebration of Love and Joy) - 2017 Massed Choir and Orchestra (AA)
African-American Spiritual (arr. Michael Huff): "Go Tell It on the Mountain" - 2018 Massed Choir, Orchestra and audience (SA)
Traditional Silesian (arr. F. Melius Christiansen): "Beautiful Savior" - 2019 Massed Choir (AA)
More info: "All Earth Is Hopeful" concert program
St. Olaf has kindly made available its video presentation of "All Earth Is Hopeful," including bonus content not presented in the audio program. Watch now.
Audio produced in cooperation with Minnesota Public Radio and sponsored in part by Tad and Cindy Piper.
Video produced through the generosity and support of St. Olaf's sponsors:
The Tomson Family Foundation
The Mark and Laura Johnson Family
David and Cynthia Hill