The Catholic University of America

Nov. 23, 2009

CUA and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to Present 21st Annual Christmas Concert for Charity

  A scene from last year's Annual Christmas Concert for Charity

Catholic University will kick off the Christmas season on Friday, Dec. 4. Following the university's tree lighting at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center that day, members of the university community will join thousands of others at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the 21st Annual Christmas Concert for Charity.

Sponsored annually by Catholic University and the Basilica, which adjoins the CUA campus, the event draws standing-room-only crowds each year and raises thousands of dollars for that year's designated charity.

This year, the concert will benefit the Consortium of Catholic Academies, a group of four inner-city Catholic schools dedicated to serving children and families in some of the neediest neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.

"The Consortium of Catholic Academies is delighted and grateful to have been selected as the beneficiary of the 21st Annual Christmas Concert for Charity," says Vincent C. Burke III, chairman of the board of directors for the Consortium of Catholic Academies. "This is a critical time for the consortium. The consortium serves 908 students and their families and 315 of our students receive D.C. Opportunity Scholarships."

Because of a cutback on federal funding, these scholarships have not been reauthorized, and many students may have to return to public schools. The consortium needs to raise nearly $2 million to replace the money for the scholarships.

"The money provided by the Christmas Concert for Charity will help children in need continue with their education in our academy schools," Burke says. "They could not receive a better Christmas gift."

Part one of the concert will be performed by the 20-voice resident Choir of the Basilica. Works featured on the program represent sacred Christmas music spanning six centuries including works by masters of sacred music as well as newly composed works for the Christmas Season.

The concert also features performances by the Catholic University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. CUA's musicians will be led by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music, and David Searle, director of orchestral activities and conducting studies. The Choir of the Basilica will be under the direction of Peter Latona, director of music at the Basilica.

The audience will be invited to join the chorus and orchestra, accompanied by the great organs of the Basilica, in singing beloved carols.

Robert Grogan, CUA lecturer and faculty adviser on organ, will present a carillon recital beginning at 7 p.m.; the Christmas Concert for Charity will begin at 7:30 p.m.

CUA musicians will première "Apparition: A Christmas Prelude," a work by Stephen Gorbos, assistant professor of composition and theory, as well as perform the music of Felix Mendelssohn, Juan García de Zéspedes, George Frideric Handel and Flor Peeters.

The concert will feature orchestrations by Richard Miller, lecturer in music theory and guitar, and Steven Allen and Sarah Horick, doctoral candidates in composition.

The concert can be viewed after it has concluded at It will air on EWTN-TV on Sunday, Dec. 20, at 1:30 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 25, at 6 p.m.

For more information about the concert, call 202-526-8300 or visit