Dec 03, 2022

Sounds of Christmas return to Ellis County with annual Cathedral Concert

Posted Dec 03, 2022 12:01 PM
File photo
File photo

Hays Post

VICTORIA — One of Ellis County's most beloved holiday traditions, the annual Christmas concert in the St. Fidelis Basilica is set to return at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

"It's a big deal with us, and we'd like to see the big crowd come in and fill up St. Fidelis. It usually does," said Terry Crull, Fort Hays State University director of choral activities.

This year's concert marks the 36th year of the free event.

"That's the gift from St. Fidelis and the Fort Hays Choirs," Crull said.

During the concert, attendees will enjoy music provided by FHSU faculty and ensembles and other guest musicians, along with the Fort Hays Singers and Concert Choir, Smoky Hill Chorale and the Hays High School Chamber Singers, according to the event announcement.

File photo
File photo

"Our special guests this year is the TMP-Marian pop singers," Crull said. "Alexandra Rome (TMP-Marian Choir director) is a former singer of mine, and her choir is going to come and be our guest choir. They're going to combine on a number with the Hays High Chamber Singers.

"We've got the Fort Hays Brass Ensemble, and the Hays symphony orchestra is playing this year," he continued. "They're doing a suite of airs and dances, and then they're also accompanying the Fort Hays Singers on a traditional piece that my generation would know 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and All Through the House,' that old poem from years ago set to music by Harry Simone, and so they're going to have a little fun with that."

Returning again this year are carols of the season performed by the assembled crowd.

"We're going to give them a chance to stand and stretch and sing some of the joyous carols of Christmas," Crull said.

Fort Hays State University music professors Ivalah Allen, Ben Cline and Irena Ravitskaya, along with accompanist Pam McGowan, will also be featured during the concert.

"It's a full program, but we keep it moving because while the interludes, the brass ensemble, etc., are playing, that's when choirs move on and off quietly so as not to disturb the performance," Crull said. "But that way, as soon as one musical item is done, the next one can start."

As the event typically fills the cathedral, he said choir members would help direct the audience to fill the pews.

But Crull said any seat is good.

"There's no bad seat in the entire sanctuary," he said. "Anywhere you sit, and anywhere you sing from, the sound is just glorious. ... I've been in Italy, with choir tour, singing in some of the great cathedrals there in Rome. The sound is just as good in St. Fidelis. Maybe there aren't as many statues by Michelangelo or Raphael. And if you go to Spain, there's a little more gold all over the place than there is in St. Fidelis, but it's a beautiful sound."

He said the concert would be around 90 minutes, allowing ample time to enjoy the annual Frost Fest parade in downtown Hays at 6 p.m.

"It's a busy time of year," Crull said. "So we think it's a great way to start the holiday season. Second Sunday of Advent this year — Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m. and free. Absolutely free. "