The Catholic University of America

Dec. 12, 2014

25th Annual Christmas Concert Raises $10,000 for Charity

  University musicians, under the direction of conductor Brian Lilley, perform during the concert.

Hundreds of Washington, D.C., area music-lovers experienced a moment of solidarity with families in the Holy Land on Friday, Dec. 5, during the 25th annual Christmas Concert for Charity.

The concert, which was sponsored jointly by The Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, raised $10,000 for the Holy Family of Bethlehem Hospital Foundation, an organization that supports a highly regarded infant and maternity hospital located 500 yards from the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem.

University President John Garvey said he was “delighted” to co-host the annual event with the Basilica and thanked all who helped to make it possible.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate our faith, to share beautiful music, and to give back to those in need,” he said.
“The performances of all of tonight’s musicians make Christmas a little brighter and echo the heavenly chorus that rang out more than 2,000 years ago when our Savior was born in Bethlehem: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and Catholic University chancellor, spoke midway through the concert and encouraged audience members to reflect on families in need while listening to music inspired by the birth of Christ.


“In this season of Advent, our thoughts necessarily turn to Bethlehem, the place of our Lord’s birth,” he said. “Holy Family Hospital is located at the very place where Jesus was born. A replica of that night is repeated in that hospital every day. Every day, it provides maternity and prenatal care for women and babies in that region — mothers and children who have nowhere else to turn."

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Holy Family of Bethlehem Hospital Foundation

Michele B. Bowe, president of the foundation’s board of directors, called the hospital “a beacon of peace and hope for the families of the region.” In addition to maternity care, she said the hospital provides general health care, including screenings for cancer, thyroid disease, and diabetes. The hospital also employs 150 Christians and Muslims and offers ongoing training for nurses, midwives, and doctors.

“Thanks to generous donors like you, these families in Palestine have state-of-the-art care for the mothers and babies,” Bowe said. “More than 63,000 babies have been born in the past 20 years at our hospital. That’s enough to fill a stadium. A stadium of good will.”

The first portion of the concert featured the Choir of the Basilica, conducted by Peter Latona, director of music. The second half featured performances by the CUA Chamber Choir, University Singers, University Chorus, and the CUA Symphony Orchestra. Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor and director of choral studies and the Institute of Sacred Music, was unable to conduct as planned due to illness. He was replaced by Bryan Lilley, a music school alumnus and instructor in musical theatre.


The concert featured the premiere of “Nativity” by Jeff Cortazzo, a doctoral student from Palmerton, Pa. “Nativity” is the first two movements of what eventually will be a full cantata focusing on the birth of Christ.
Other works performed included the Peruvian processional hymn “Hanacpachap Cussicuinin”; Manuel de Sumaya’s “¡Albricias mortales! que viene la aurora”; Francis Poulenc’s “Priez pour paix”; Joseph Haydn’s “Agnus Dei … Dona Nobis Pacem”; Franz Xaver Gruber’s “Silent Night”; Sussex Carol’s “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing”; Jan Sandström’s “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”; Leo Nestor’s “I Sing of a Maiden”; and Max Reger’s “Mariä Wiegenlied”.

During the concert, the audience stood and joined the chorus, orchestra, and the great organs of the Basilica in singing the traditional carol “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” The concert concluded with “Hallelujah” from Handel’s “Messiah” in Mozart’s orchestration.

The concert will air on EWTN on Thursday, Dec. 25, at 11 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 28, at 1:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 10:30 p.m.




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