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70th Candlelight Concert



7:30 PM Friday, December 1, 2018
4:00 PM Saturday, December 2, 2018


4937 Sierra Vista Ave, Riverside, CA 92505

The Department of Music invites you to celebrate 70 years of rich musical tradition this December! Join us for the 70th Annual Candlelight Concert on Friday evening, December 1 at 7:30p and again on Saturday afternoon, December 2 at 4:00p. These two performances will take place at the La Sierra University Church located at 4937 Sierra Vista Ave, Riverside, California 92505.

The evening will feature performances by the La Sierra University Choirs, Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble. Enjoy watching our guest conductors lead out in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Enjoy sounds of the season with your family and friends.

This event is free and open to the public. Limited reserved seats are available. Please email MUSIC@LASIERRA.EDU for more information.


The programs of December 1st and 2nd will mark the 70th anniversary of the Annual Candlelight Concert at the La Sierra University Church.  The history of the Candlelight Concert and the history of the Church are closely related.  Large increases in enrollment at La Sierra over the years had caused the Church to outgrow the capacity of its facilities at least twice, once when church services were held upstairs in La Sierra Hall (leading to the construction of Hole Memorial Auditorium in 1937), and again when HMA could not contain the Church.  There seem to have been planned during the earlier 1940s to construct a large church building, but it was not until October of 1945 that church officials finalized the plans and costs for the new structure.  After several stops in construction due to finances and materials, the new Church was inaugurated on May 24, 1947, just before the end of the school year.

The 1947-48 school year was full of excitement with the new church building and as the Christmas season approached, plans were made to use the beautiful new building to its utmost.  The December 10, 1947, edition of the College Criterion (La Sierra’s weekly student paper) noted “[t]he combined choral organizations of LSC, totaling 150 voices, will present a Christmas candlelight concert in the La Sierra church….This is the first such concert in many years and promises to be one of the memorable programs of the current year.”

 The December 17, 1947 edition of the Campus Criterion described the program as follows.

“The annual Christmas program of the college choral organizations was presented last Saturday night in the new church, which was filled to capacity. Down the aisles of the darkened church came the singers, each carrying a lighted candle, and the strains of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful,” the processional carol, swelled from a soft melody to a full chorus as the one hundred and thirty singers reached the platform.”

The participating ensembles were the College Choir and Male Chorus, directed by Professor John T. Hamilton, and the Harmonettes (Women’s Chorus) directed by Mrs. Ellen Kurtz-Jacobson.  These ensembles were accompanied by Professor H.B. Hannum on a Hammond electric organ (lent for the occasion by Elmer Digneo) and Bennett Lau on piano.  Leonard Robinson and Kathleen Nicola provided narration, and solos were given by Annetta Striplin, Glenn Reynolds, James Adams, Francis Cossentine and Dorothy Vipond.  According to the Campus Criterion, telegrams expressing well wishes came from Dr. Randall Thompson, the eminent choral composer then teaching at Princeton University, George Howerton of Northwestern University, Gerhard Schroth of the University of Chicago, and a telephone call from Roy Ringwald in Los Angeles.

The program, shown below, was a mixture of traditional carols, centuries-old settings and contemporary compositions.

Candle-light Processional        “Adeste Fidelis”

Fanfare for Christmas Day             Shaw

Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light Bach

Motet: Alleluia   Thompson

Lullaby on Christmas Eve             Christiansen

Beautiful Saviour Arr. Wesner

The Morning Star   Praetorius

Silent Night     F. Gruber

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming   Praetorius

In the Bleak Mid-Winter             Holst

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones Arr. Davison

The Song of Christmas      Ringwald

Angels from the Realms of Glory             Smart

Traditional Carols:

    Silent Night

       Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

    The First Noel

Professor John T. Hamilton directs the congregation and combined choirs in “The First Noel”, final selection of the inaugural Candlelight Concert, December 13, 1947.