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Tickets Still Available for Westmont Christmas Festival Performances

Dr. Michael Shasberger conducting the Christmas Festival in 2014. Click to view larger
Dr. Michael Shasberger conducting the Christmas Festival in 2014. (Westmont photo)

The 11th annual Westmont Christmas Festival, a popular family tradition in Santa Barbara, will feature early and contemporary holiday music at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4; at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Avenue in Santa Barbara.

The Saturday evening concert has already sold out, but you can purchase tickets to this year’s performance, I Will Give You as a Light to the Nations, for $15 apiece online only at westmont.edu/christmasfestival. Please call 805.565.7140 for more information.

This year’s festival includes a Saturday matinee performance at regular ticket prices to meet the demand for tickets.

“So as not to overburden the student musicians, we will not present a formal dress rehearsal on Thursday, Dec. 3,” says Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship. “We hope that the four concerts on the weekend will accommodate everyone who desires to attend.”

This year’s festival features a more robust collaboration than in past years, as the choirs and orchestra join forces throughout the program at key points.

Musical conductors for the festival include Shasberger, Grey Brothers, Nichole Dechaine, Daniel Fraats (Class of ’16), Steve Hodson and Paul Mori.

Senior Lindsey Twigg, who starred in Westmont’s productions of The Insect Comedy and The Seagull, provides the festival’s narration.

This year’s theme of proclaiming the light of Christ to the world has brought forth many beautiful musical images, textual references and dramatic connotations to pursue.

“I am always delighted with how the theme shapes and forms the festival,” says Shasberger, who conducts the college’s orchestra and choir.

The theme of Christ’s light, drawn from Isaiah 42:6, appears in the song of Simeon in Luke 2:29.

“Composers seem to gravitate toward those images of light and create musical canvases that range from powerful beams to shimmering images,” Shasberger says. “We are presenting a beautiful setting of Simeon’s Song, The Nunc Dimittis, by contemporary American composer Robert Scholz for choir and orchestra, a richly textured setting of the historic text O Nata Lux (Born of Light) by Guy Forbes and a classic setting of a similar text by the most famous Renaissance composer, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina."

The festival offers a sneak peek of a piece that Professor Steve Butler will premiere in 2016. His new oratorio is based on the real story of Bishop Nicholas of Myra, also known as St. Nicholas, who has morphed into our contemporary Santa Claus.

“We will share the first movement of this new work that was written just in time for inclusion in the festival. The Westmont Choirs and Orchestra will perform the entire work in March,” Shasberger says.

Scott Craig is the manager of media relations for Westmont College.

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