Students prepare for much-anticipated annual Christmas Collegium

Music Society celebrates the holiday season with fun afternoon of music

Every year around this time the Mt. A music department is filled with holiday cheer and this year is no exception! Mara Ireta Gordon/Argosy

Every Wednesday afternoon, music students perform at the Collegium Musicum in Brunton Auditorium. As a music student it is fun both to gain experience performing a solo or chamber repertoire and also to sit in the audience supporting and listening to our peers.

At the end of the fall term, the department of music puts on the annual Christmas Collegium, normally held on the last day of classes. In this program, students get the opportunity to perform holiday-themed music, often in larger groups with friends.

“I am looking forward to Christmas Collegium because it is a chance to perform music just for the sake of enjoying music,” said Cian McCarron, a first-year pianist.

“Throughout the term, it might have been stressful performing or studying music as it was all important to your grade. Christmas Collegium is a good chance to make music just for the sake of loving music.”

Christmas Collegium often includes students outside of the bachelor of music program. Mt. A Cappella, run by music students but consisting mostly of students from outside the department, typically makes an appearance in the program, often performing carol arrangements by the popular a cappella group Pentatonix. This time around, they will be performing my own Christmas Medley arrangement of popular carols and tunes, the first time I will get to direct and hear my own arrangement performed.

“Christmas Collegium has always been a great time,” said Jake Michaud, who has been singing bass with Mt. A Cappella for four years. “Even as someone outside the music department, it has always been an entertaining and energetic string of performances. There is that excited ‘end of term’ energy behind all the performances, but despite being a large group there is still a friendly nature to it all without descending into inside jokes and banter.”

Given the fun, collaborative nature of this afternoon of music, students and professors often get creative and put together their own arrangements of individual carols or collections of carols and tunes. For example, professors teaching musicianship or methods classes will often have their classes perform their arrangements as a fun way to practice the skills they learned during the term. As for students, they will often form their own duos, trios, quartets, and so on. A trio of six hands on a piano is commonly seen on the upright piano that is placed in the middle of the main lobby. Other ensembles make use of the atrium space, such as the Elliott Chorale, which oftens performs carols or selections from Handel’s Messiah in around the railing upstairs.

“As one of the social chairs on the Music Society executive I especially love Christmas Collegium because it has that element of bringing people together and creating an atmosphere of fun, friendship and understanding, which ultimately is what I want to bring to the department as much as I can,” said Caitlin Strong, a second-year pianist.

Christmas Collegium is also full of traditions. Carols such as Joy to the World and O Come All Ye Faithful are normally sung, although one of the favourite traditions is the singing of Dona Nobis Pacem at the end of the program, led by former music theory professor Dr. Gary Tucker, who recently retired. Afterwards, students from the Music Society gather around the Christmas tree for the Secret Santa gift exchange, and Santa himself may even make an appearance!

“One of my favourite Christmas memories was when the Elliott Chorale sang the song Here comes Santa Claus but changed the words to “Santa Paws” while our choir director’s dog went around and got pats from all the audience members,” said Adelle Elwood, a fourth-year pianist. “I know I will definitely miss Dr. Tucker leading us in Dona Nobis Pacem which has always been the official ‘start’ to the Christmas season for me.”

I encourage you to join the department of music next Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. in the Music Conservatory for this annual holiday celebration.

Isaiah Yankech
Isaiah Yankech is a contributor to the Argosy.