Sacred Sounds 

NewVoices, a mixed-voice adult choir comprised of 80 volunteer singers, will present its popular Christmas at the Cathedral and Christmas at the Chapel concerts this month. Artistic director and conductor Dr. Philip A. Swan will lead the choir in their presentation of sacred hymns, carols and sing-alongs. 

“People don’t often have the opportunity to hear sacred music at Christmastime in a live setting,” says Swan, who is also an associate professor of music and co-director of choral studies at Lawrence University. 

Due to the popularity of the concerts, a second performance at Lawrence Chapel was added this year. Christmas at the Cathedral will take place on December 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Green Bay’s St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. Christmas at the Chapel will take place on December 15 at the Lawrence University Chapel in Appleton with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 

The sacred settings enhance the experience for both audience and choir, Swan says. 

“The cathedral is a sacred worship space, lots of marble and stained glass, chandeliers,” he says. “The chapel [also] has an ambience of a sacred space, it’s designed in the chapel style with the stained glass windows and decoration. It adds a lot to the overall feeling of the concert and the sense of being in a sacred environment.”

At this year’s concert, the repertoire of Christmas carols will include traditional choral music, new arrangements of familiar songs as well as older, lesser known carols. The performances will also include choral sing-alongs where the audience is invited to participate. Katherine Handford will accompany the choir on the organ.

“We see a wide variety of people attending these concerts, it crosses all generations,” Swan says. “I think there’s a nostalgia factor for some older people, and younger people have heard the songs growing up as well and there’s an interest on their part [to hear these carols].” 

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