COLA Connections Newsletter: Winter 2015

Holiday Harmonies: RIT’s Performing Arts Celebrates with Concerts

At the height of one of the most stressful times of the year, the soothing power of music can provide a much-needed moment of relaxation for many. RIT’s holiday concert series deliver just that: dazzling music that celebrates the spirit of the season to both soothe and inspire.

This year, the College of Liberal Arts’ Performing Arts department offered two major concerts that celebrate distinct sides of the holidays. The first, Advent Lessons and Carols Service, took place on December 5th and showcased our RIT Orchestra along with the RIT Singers and Chamber Singers. The second, RIT’s annual Holiday Concert featured a whole spectrum of RIT’s accomplished music groups on December 13th. Jazz Ensembles, RIT Singers & Chamber Singers, Agbekor (RIT's African Percussion Ensemble), A Cappella groups, and others performed all different types of classic holiday music.

The Advent Lessons and Carols Service took place in the Allen Interfaith Memorial Chapel, off the SAU, to a packed house. The space is an intimate venue with wooden walls that provide warm acoustics. The program included various scripture readings and touching reflections on faith during the holiday season. It was a co-production by Dr. Michael Ruhling and Prof. Sarah Toca of the Performing Arts Program and Jeffrey Hering, the director of the RIT Center for Religious Life.

The program featured the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, with singers filling the chapel with melodies and harmonies from several of Bach’s Christmas cantatas. Advent is a season of anticipation and hope, and the dramatic musical sermons reflected both of these sentiments. The RIT Singers and the RIT Orchestra complemented each other. The concert even featured Gregorian chant alongside many hymns and prayers.

Likewise, the annual Holiday Concert provides soaring renditions of holiday classics. Less contemplative and more celebratory than the Advent program, the Holiday Concert rouses spirits and provides one final hurrah to the holiday season at RIT before the semester ends. Dr. Jonathan Kruger, director of our Jazz Ensemble, produced the event. It’s held in the Ingle Auditorium on a Saturday evening, and it’s always a jolly time.

The performing arts add indispensable value to the university. They provide a necessary contrast to the highly technological environment with a myriad of creative, inspiring, relieving, and uplifting benefits. The incredible technical abilities that lie within the many minds that inhabit this campus are adept at the discipline and mechanical skill needed for playing instruments, and eager for the exhilarating satisfaction it brings. RIT’s Performing Arts offers academic credit through studying and performing in eight different ensembles (and many extracurricular student clubs). COLA also offers 40 music and theatre related courses. Whether you are a performer or a spectator, our programs provide integral balance to the culture of RIT.

One cannot engage in the humanities and the arts that are core to a Liberal Arts education without recognizing the importance of the performing arts. Likewise, one cannot deny the importance of the holiday spirit to the history of music at large.