The Catholic University of America

Dec. 3, 2007

CUA and National Shrine to Hold 19th Annual Charity Christmas Concert

Donations Collected at the Event will Benefit Providence Hospital's Perry Family Health Center

Musicians perform at last year's 18th Annual Christmas Concert for Charity.

Musicians from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and The Catholic University of America will present the 19th Annual Christmas Concert for Charity in the Basilica's Great Upper Church on Friday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Donations will benefit Providence Hospital's Perry Family Health Center. The center is a community-based, comprehensive primary health care outreach serving residents of all ages in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Prior to the concert, the university will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. The 5 p.m. event will feature Christmas carols, readings and prayers. For more information on this, and other Christmas related events, click here.

The concert will highlight performances by the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine, led by the National Shrine's director of music, Peter Latona, and the CUA Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music Leo Nestor and Director of Orchestral Activities and Conducting Studies David Searle.

The musicians will present a concert of carols and Christmas selections spanning several centuries that will include works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Villa-Lobos and Vaughan Williams. Catholic University's portion of the evening will open with the premiere performance of "Hodie Nobis de Caelo" by Jason Lovelace, a CUA doctoral candidate in composition.

Lovelace's piece continues what is now a seven-year tradition at the concert - an original fanfare composition by a member of the university's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. The CUA Chorus and Symphony Orchestra also will perform the premiere of "Carol of the Magi" by Andrew Earle Simpson, associate professor of music and chair of composition. Other musical settings by CUA faculty will include "Alma Redemptoris mater" by Joseph Santo, assistant dean of music, and "I Wonder As I Wander," by Nestor.

The audience will be invited to join the university chorus, accompanied by the orchestra and the National Shrine's organs, in singing carols interspersed throughout the CUA program.

As has been the case during the preceding 18 years, a free-will collection will be taken up during the concert to support a local charitable organization, in this case the Perry Family Health Center.

Previous concerts have benefited the Spanish Catholic Center, SOAR (Support Our Aging Religious), SOME (So Others Might Eat), St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home and the Jeanne Jugan Residence for the elderly poor, among other local charities.

This year's beneficiary, Providence Hospital's Perry Family Health Center, opened in 1998 in the renovated Perry School - the first school for African-Americans in Washington, D.C. It provides access to family-oriented care to a predominantly African-American population in Northwest, D.C., although there has been an emerging community of Hispanic residents seeking care.

"This concert is such a gift to the people we are privileged to serve," says Robert Hutson, executive vice president of Providence Health Foundation. "The money raised will be used to help purchase prescription medications, medical supplies and prenatal vitamins. This will be a great blessing for patients who tell us that they go without medicines prescribed by our physicians because they do not have the money to pay for them."

Perry Family Health Center serves a neighborhood with high rates of infant mortality, obesity, substance abuse and untreated chronic medical conditions. It conducts more than 18,000 patient visits each year, of which 20 to 30 percent are uninsured.

The long-term goal of the Perry Family Health Center is to vastly improve the manner in which primary family health care is delivered to vulnerable populations. The staff at Perry works toward Providence Hospital's mission of serving with joy, care and respect.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at 202-319-5414 or the National Shrine at 202-526-8300 or visit The shrine is located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C.

EWTN will broadcast the concert on its cable station on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 2 a.m.; Friday, Dec. 21, at 5:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 25 at 9 p.m.

MEDIA: To arrange coverage of the concert, contact Jacquelyn Hayes at 202-281-0615 (National Shrine) or Mary McCarthy at 202-319-5600 (Catholic University).

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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the western hemisphere and the eighth largest church in the world. Completed in 1959, its more than 65 chapels and oratories represent the many ethnic devotions U.S. Catholics have to the Blessed Virgin. Pope John Paul II elevated the Shrine to the distinction of Basilica in 1990.

The Catholic University of America, located near the heart of Washington, D.C., is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1887 and chartered by Congress, the university opened as a graduate and research institution. Undergraduate programs were introduced in 1904. Today the private and coeducational campus has approximately 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in 12 schools of architecture and planning, arts and sciences, canon law, engineering, law, library and information science, Metropolitan College, music, nursing, philosophy, social service, and theology and religious studies.