The Catholic University of America

Oct. 31, 2011

23rd Annual Christmas Concert for Charity to be Presented by CUA and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


Catholic University will celebrate the music of Christmas on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m., with the 23rd Annual Christmas Concert for Charity in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  

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

This year, the concert will benefit A Simple House of Sts. Francis and Alphonsus, a lay missionary apostolate serving the poorest residents of Northwest and Southeast Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Mo.

A Simple House is an outreach ministry that addresses the material and spiritual needs of the poor. “We befriend the poor and respond to their various individual needs with love and creativity,” says Laura Hehman, a full-time volunteer and resident at A Simple House who is also a 2005 graduate of CUA.

“At A Simple House I have learned that the problems of the poor cannot be fixed by material solutions alone,” she says. “Many people are in need of things, but hurt and despair are worse problems. Love is the greatest need.

“It is a special honor to have our alma mater bless the work of A Simple House by choosing it as the recipient of the offering at this year’s Christmas Concert for Charity,” Hehman says. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our ministry and the families that we serve.” 

The concert will feature performances by the combined Catholic University Chamber Choir, University Singers, University Chorus and CUA Symphony Orchestra. CUA’s musicians will be conducted by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music, and Peter Latona, director of music at the Basilica, will direct the Choir of 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 in organ and carillonneur of the Basilica, will present a carillon recital beginning at 7 p.m.; the Christmas Concert for Charity will begin at 7:30 p.m. 

Catholic University musicians will premiere the commissioned work “Lux infinita” by Sarah Horick, a doctoral student in music composition. It is an annual tradition, now in its 11th year, for CUA students and faculty to premiere new works at this concert. 

In addition to works by Conrad Susa, Richard Wayne Dirksen, Sergei Rachmanninov and Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, the concert will also feature several carol settings by Nestor. 

EWTN will air the concert on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 25, at 4 a.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 2 p.m. The network will also air the concert from 2010 on Monday, Dec. 19, at 8 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 22, at 3:30 a.m. 

The concert can also be viewed after it has concluded at 

For more information about the concert, call 202-319-5600 or visit



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