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Westmont Christmas Festival Spreads Hope, Peace

Westmont presents its 12th annual Christmas Festival, retelling the Christmas story by weaving narration with music from the Westmont Orchestra, College Choir and Choral Union, at 7 p.m. Dec. 2-3; 2 p.m. Dec. 3; and 3 p.m. Dec. 4 at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave., Santa Barbara.

Tickets to this year’s performance, “Fear Not for I am with You,” are $15 and can only be purchased online beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at Call 565-7140 for more information.

The festival includes a range of music from the Renaissance masterpiece “Ne Timeas Maria” ("Don’t Be Afraid Mary") by 16th-century Spanish composer Tomas Luis da Victoria to the serenely beautiful setting of “This Christmastide” by contemporary composer Donald Fraser.

“This year we give a special emphasis to hope and peace in the midst of a world that is far too often confronted with images of fear and loneliness,” says Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship.

The festival offers new orchestrations of familiar carols by Chicago composer Gary Fry, whose music has been featured on the annual Christmas programs of the Dallas Symphony; and Dan Goeller, whose orchestral offering “Fiesta de Navidad” gives a Mexican flare to beloved carols.

Conductors will include music professors Shasberger, Steve Hodson and Grey Brothers, and adjunct professor Nichole DeChaine and student conductor Jason Tong.

This year’s narrators, who sing with the college choir and participate in the theater program, include Anna Telfer, Elena White, Merckx Dascomb, Sean McElrath and Micah Anthony.

“The drama of the evening will be heightened by recognition of the message, ‘Do not be afraid,’ to all of God’s people throughout history including our own,” Shasberger said. “This year’s festival promises to be one of the most colorful and uplifting editions of this beautiful tradition.”

— Scott Craig for Westmont College.

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