The Concordia Christmas Concert is one of the most popular holiday events in the area. The concert has a storied history that is as impressive as its music itself. If you have never been to a performance, strongly consider adding it to your holiday itinerary. You will never take it off.The history of the concert can be traced all the way back to 1927, when Cara Duea, Concordia’s piano and organ professor, founded the Concordia Music Club. One of their activities was the Christmas concert, which was performed in Old Main’s chapel. The concert continued at Concordia or Moorhead’s Trinity Lutheran Church until 1943, when it was moved to the Moorhead Armory to accommodate the ever-increasing public demand.
By 1946, three performances were held annually. Within six years, five more were required to handle the demand. In 1952, the performances moved to Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium, where they have been held ever since.
Over the past decade, the concert has begun taking advantage of society’s technological advances. For instance, the mural that serves as the choir’s backdrop has been digitally designed and printed ever since Paul Johnson first accomplished the feat in 2009. Instead of hand painting the design, volunteers and staff affix large sheets of printed graphics to wood panels. The result is stunning backdrops that help the beautiful Christmas music come to life.
Gordon Moe, manager of choral ensembles and executive producer of the Concordia Christmas Concert, managed his first set of concerts in 1989. This year, Moe will produce his 130th Christmas concert, and he sees no reason to believe the popularity of the event will decrease any time soon.
“The Concordia Christmas Concerts remain relevant and timeless because they illuminate the birth story of Jesus Christ through music, visual art, and the spoken word,” Moe explained. “Unlike any other concert, there is so much variety and texture to this production. The concert is popular for the music lover, the art enthusiast, and the individual looking to hear the Christmas story presented in a new and creative manner.” Indeed, for many concert goers, the event signifies the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season.
Even though it has a consistent theme, the Christmas concert is different every year as the artists strive to present the Christmas story in new and creative ways. “Some elements remain the same; the music is primarily classical choral and orchestral literature, the massive art installation reinforces the lyric and concert theme, and we are blessed with professional quality narrators,” Moe said. Beyond that, however, no two concerts are exactly alike.
For those who have never attended a Concordia Christmas Concert, Moe believes that the scale of the production is unlike anything they may have ever experienced. “Photos and videos simply cannot convey that magnitude of the event,” he explained. “An individual has to experience the 350 voices, 75 instruments, original art the size of three basketball courts, and 3,200 participating audience members.” In other words, you have to see it to believe it.
Moe would like to assure our readers that the rumor that the four Concordia Christmas Concerts are always sold out is only just that. “Although the concerts are very successful, my ongoing challenge as the concert’s promoter is to inform everyone that ‘tickets are still available for all performances,’” said Moe.
In 2017, there will be four performances in Moorhead and two in Minneapolis. The Moorhead concerts will be held on December 1st at 7:00 pm, December 2nd at 2:00 pm at 7:00 pm, and December 3rd at 2:00 pm. Since 1919, over one million listeners have attended the Christmas concert. If you would like to be a part of that history, tickets are available at www.concordiacollege.edu/music/concordia-christmas-concert/tickets/.
By Jamee Larson