Holden Choruses deck the halls with holiday music

by Kristina Latino

As the weather turns colder in Harvard Square, holiday lights appear in store windows and Christmas music plays in the undergraduate dining halls. Some of this Christmas music will be filling First Church in Cambridge 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 as Harvard Holden Choirs groups -- Radcliffe Choral Society and Harvard Glee Club -- perform their annual Christmas Concert.

A tradition stretching back 100 years, the concert holds a unique place in the Holden repertoire and a warm place in the hearts of Cambridge citizens. This concert is the most community-oriented of the Holden concerts, drawing audiences from campus, Cambridge and the greater Boston area.

Amy Lifland '13, president of the RCS, says the Christmas Concert is her favorite of the year.

"It's a concert that a lot of people in the Cambridge and Boston communities come to," she said. "Families come because it puts our music in a very approachable context for people with varying levels of exposure to classic music."

When I attended the concert last year, I was surprised and delighted by the diversity of repertoire performed at the concert: Christmas hymns, classic carols, traditional choral a cappella. And yet the concert is shorter than most other Holden concerts. The audience is even encouraged to sing along with some carols. It makes for an important connection between audiences and singers.

"We get to perform some repertoire that wouldn't be appropriate at other times in the year," said Lifland. "It's a bonding experience to go off-campus together and sing beautiful music with each other and with our audience."

RCS and Glee Club each sing individual pieces as well as combined hymns for the annual Christmas Concert. The event brings together the Harvard and off-campus communities to sing sacred and secular music -- and to ring in the holiday season. To add your voice (and get tickets), click here.