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Author: Adam Goldstein

2022 College of Music Holiday Festival continues cherished tradition

The holiday season needs music to truly feel festive.

No amount of string lights, eggnog or ugly sweaters can summon the deeper meaning of the holiday season without a soundtrack. Whether it’s a familiar carol or a stunning seasonal orchestral masterwork, music makes a holiday celebration.

That’s why the CU Boulder College of Music’s annual Holiday Festival plays such a central role in ringing in the holiday spirit for the entire community. For decades, College of Music student musicians and world-class faculty performers have come together to present a one-of-a-kind holiday program that combines beloved musical traditions, exciting new works and expressions of cheer from all over the world.

“There’s an excitement and enthusiasm about it,” says Donald McKinney, director of bands, professor of conducting and conducting chair. Indeed, coming back for the second festival after the cancellation of the 2020 celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic still adds extra significance for many. “Since I took over managing the event in 2018, I’ve always had that sense of excitement about the festival, but once the pandemic happened, it really made it even more apparent that we have to appreciate every moment of it and realize how special it is.”

This year’s festival runs from Dec. 2 to 4, formally launching the local holiday season with a wide-ranging program featuring student choirs, bands and orchestras, as well as accomplished faculty performers.

The program represents a mix of different musical styles and approaches, with traditional hymns like “Betelehemu” and the “Hallelujah Chorus,” as well as exciting selections that reflect the college’s dedication to inclusive excellence—from an orchestral rendition of Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s “Christmas Overture” to a choral performance of “This Little Light of Mine,” arranged by African American composer Moses Hogan. What’s more, the lineup includes a performance by the student bassoon ensemble, a popular feature of the 2019 festival.

For us, the festival is more than a celebration of the season; it’s also a chance for College of Music student musicians to demonstrate their progress at the end of the academic semester, just as it’s an opportunity for the college’s accomplished faculty to return to their roots as performers and musicians.

“Everybody who performs onstage is a student or a faculty member,” McKinney says. “Everybody involved has a commitment to the College of Music.”

The CU Boulder College of Music’s Holiday Festival runs Dec. 2 to 4 in Macky Auditorium.