The Catholic University of America

Dec. 16, 2013

Concert Raises $9,000 to Support Bethlehem House


The 24th annual Christmas Concert for Charity raised about $9,000 for Bethlehem House, which provides two Christian residential communities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and shares a special relationship with The Catholic University of America.

“My friends from Bethlehem House and I are deeply humbled and grateful for this gift,” said the diminutive Dolores Wilson, director of the program, as she stood in the ambo of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of Dec. 6.

“The word ‘Bethlehem’ means house of bread. We believe in sharing the bread of our lives with one another. We welcome all who come into our home,” said Wilson, addressing an audience that filled the Basilica’s Great Upper Church, where poinsettias lined the steps to the altar and garlands of greens with white lights and red bows hung from the balconies.

Speaking at the concert, University President John Garvey noted, “During this special season, we are delighted to offer our gratitude to Bethlehem House for the work they do.”

Bethlehem House runs communities in the Brookland neighborhood of northeast Washington, D.C., and in Riverdale, Md. The University’s relationship with the Brookland house dates back to about 1997 when CUA’s Best Buddies chapter was founded. Since then, many of the buddies have been Bethlehem House residents.

During the school year, CUA students make weekly visits to Bethlehem House, where they pray and eat with the residents.


University musicians, under the direction of Professor Leo Nestor, perform at the concert.
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Wilson said she was thankful for the “deep friendships” that have developed between Bethlehem House residents and CUA students. “Our friends with disabilities teach us what it means to be real and prayerful. I am touched every night during prayer moments by the deep relationship they have with Jesus.”

Sponsored jointly by the University and the Basilica since 1990, the concert benefits a different Washington, D.C.-area charity each year. The first portion of the much-loved Christmas tradition features the Choir of the Basilica, conducted by Peter Latona, director of music.

The second half features The Catholic University of America Chamber Choir, University Singers, University Chorus, and CUA Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor and director of choral studies and the Institute of Sacred Music.

As in the past 13 years, the concert featured the premiere of a new work by a CUA student or faculty member. This year’s performance featured the premiere of “The Heavens Rained” by Erik Abrahamson, a second-year student in the Master of Music in Composition program.

  Monsignor Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica; Dolores Wilson, director of Bethlehem House; and John Garvey, University President.

Other works included:
• Joseph Leopold von Eybler’s “Tui sunt caeli,” HV 78
• Three movements from Felix Mendelssohn’s “Christus,” Op. 97: When Jesus our Lord was born in Bethlehem; Say, where is he born, the King of Judea?; and There shall a star from out of Jacob
• Three villancicos (traditional Hispanic carols): “Es nasçido, dinos quien” (Dom Pedro de Cristo), “Rey a quien reyes adoran” (Cancionero de Uppsala), “Adagio y Villancico” (Leo Nestor)
• William Cutter’s “Fantasia on a Ukrainian Carol” (“The Carol of the Bells”)
• Peter Warlock’s “Lullaby my Jesus” arranged from the “Capriol Suite, V: Pieds en l’air” by Andrew Carter and Warlock’s “Three Carols,” Tyrley tyrlow, Balulalow, and The sycamore tree
• Leo Nestor’s premiere of “I Sing of a Maiden”

David Elliott, a first-year doctoral student in sacred music and graduate assistant in music and liturgy at Campus Ministry, orchestrated the villancicos “Es nasçido, dinos quien” and “Rey a quien reyes adoran.”

During the concert, the audience joined the chorus, orchestra, and the great organs of the Basilica in singing the traditional carols “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” The concert concluded with “Hallelujah” from George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” in Mozart’s orchestration.

The concert will air on EWTN on Wednesday, Dec. 25, at 11 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 29, at 1:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 10:30 p.m.



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