PHOTOS: Annual Cathedral Concert


The 36th annual Christmas Cathedral Concert was held on Dec. 11 at the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria, Kan. Choirs included the Fort Hays Singers, Concert Choir, Smoky Hill Chorale, the Hays High School Chamber Singers, and TMP-Marian’s Pop Singers. Hays Symphony Orchestra was also featured this year, with interludes from FHSU’s Brass Choir and various soloists.
Peter Lillpopp, Director of Bands at FHSU, leads the Brass Choir in various Christmas Carols from the choir loft as the audience enters the cathedral. Their welcome was followed by a traditional moment of silence to reflect on the beauty of the season and the space. Fort Hays Singers opened the concert with “Fanfare for Christmas Day” by Martin Shaw.
The Hays Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Brian Buckstead, performs Ancient Airs and Dances, a four-movement piece by Ottorino Respighi. Buckstead said he programmed it for the Christmas concert because it captures both the “jocular and melancholy” spirit of the season.
For the first interlude, soprano Ivalah Allen performs “Gesu Bambino” by Pietro Yon, accompanied by Pam McGowne on piano.
The Fort Hays Singers donned festive hats to sing an animated chorus rendition of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (poem by Clement Clark Moore, music by Ken Darby, arranged by Harry Simeone). The Hays Symphony Orchestra helped bring the story to life through the playful composition and imaginative sounds.
Everyone in attendance stands to sing “Joy to the World,” as per one of the Cathedral Concert traditions. Various carols are sprinkled throughout the program to include the audience in the event.
The TMP-Marian Pop Singers take the stage to perform “Comfort and Joy” by Ruth Morris Gray, conducted by Alexandra Rome. Their second song, “Brightest and Best,” arranged by Shawn Kirchner, featured FHSU percussionists Julia Cox and Tabor Rucker.
In the second interlude, Music Department chair Benjamin Cline and piano professor Irena Ravitskaya played “Ave Maria” by Astor Pantaleon Piazzolla.
The Hays High School Chamber Singers joined the Pop Singers on “Here is the Little Door” by Herbert Howells, conducted by Alex Underwood. Soloists included Oscar Flores, Anthony Arial, Seth Tripp, and Nate Henderson.
After the third interlude by the Brass Choir (“The Heavens Declare” by Benedetto Marcello), the Chamber Singers performed “Hodie Christus Natus Est” by G.P. da Palestrina and “Salve Regina” by Cesar Alejandro Carrillo.
Under the direction of FHSU choir conductor Terry Crull, the Smoky Hill Chorale sings their set, including “Velvet Shoes” by Andy Beck, “Sing We Now of Christmas,” a French carol arranged by Jay Althouse, “All My Heart This Night Rejoices,” by Jack C. Goode, “Light in the Darkness” by Amy Gordon.
Kathryn Walters solos on oboe in the Smoky Hill Chorale’s final song, “He Is Born” (French carol “Il Est Ne”) arranged by Donna Gartman Schultz. The song also featured Anna Towns on finger cymbals, and Galen Schmidtberger on hand drum.
Kay Werth and Austin Werth join Ravitskaya on piano for “Allegro,” the third movement of Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin in D minor in the fourth interlude.
The Fort Hays Singers join Concert Choir in performing “Sicut Cervus” G.P. da Palestrina. The combined choirs sang the piece “in the round,” completely circling the center of the audience in the cathedral.
The choirs sang “Mary’s Boy Chile” a calypso spiritual by Jester Hairston, featuring Walters as a soloist, while they traveled up the aisles to the front of the room. Once there, they performed “Take Joy Home” by Dale Grotenhuis, and “Ave Maria” by Franz Biebl, highlighting trio Luis Valencia Zamora (1st tenor), Eric Adams (2nd tenor), and Hayden Sillmon (baritone).
Crull conducts the Fort Hays Singers in the concert’s closing songs: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” by Michael Praetorius, and “Carol of the Bells” arranged by Peter Wilhousky.

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