Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

Graphic designed by Julien Padillo.

On Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 from 3-4:30 p.m., West Chester University’s Wells School of Music will be hosting its 100th Annual Holiday Program in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. 

Directed by Associate Professor and Associate Director of Choral Activities Ryan Kelly, the Annual Holiday Program is described by West Chester University to be “a staple of the West Chester University holiday season” and “a focal point of the community.” 

To celebrate the tradition’s 100-year anniversary, the holiday program includes a commissioned work by David Conte, a San Francisco composer. The work is a new festival setting of “Gloria,” curated for brass, percussion, organ, and choir. For this piece, Sándor Kádár, First Presbyterian Church in West Chester’s organist, will be accompanying on the historical Skinner organ. 

Another program highlight will be a performance of “O Holy Night.” This rendition will be sung by Sydney Szwarc, a senior from Coatesville majoring in Music Education and Vocal Performance, and the winner of this year’s vocal honors competition. The winner of the vocal honors competition is selected by a faculty panel and awarded to the best male or female soloist (in the past, it was traditionally awarded to best female soloist). 

Other elements of the concert will include renditions of “Benedicite” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, selections from “Magnificat” by Bach, “Sanctus” by Ildebrando Pizzetti and “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson. In regards to participating Wells School of Music ensembles, the line up includes the Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Cantari Donne, Mastersingers, Criterions Jazz Ensemble and West Chester University Symphony Orchestra. 

Initially established on Dec. 18, 1921 as the “Christmas Carol Service,” the Holiday Program began as a joining of the Senior Girls’ and Junior Girls’ Glee Clubs. Together, they would sing a combination of choral and sacred music, processing in white gowns with lit candles down the halls of Old Main Chapel and the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. 

Now, West Chester University continues to uphold its tradition 100 years later, featuring the convergence of both sacred and secular music in a 1200-seat concert hall in 2021. 

The Wells School of Music aims to “provide an inclusive, world-class education by engaging students in diverse and evolving degree programs that further artistic excellence and help students become valuable contributors to a greater society.” The Holiday Program is one of their over 200 annual concerts.

Regardless of vaccination status, all faculty, staff, students and visitors are required to uphold the university’s mask mandate when attending the concert. This mandate requires proper mask wear (i.e. mask coverage of the mouth and nose) when indoors. When outdoors, masks are permitted but not required. Any changes or updates regarding COVID-19 safety measures can be found on West Chester University’s website. 

The Annual Holiday Concert will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 at 3-4:30 p.m. at Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall in Philips Memorial Building (700 S. High Street, West Chester, PA). Parking is available in West Chester University’s M-Lot, and limited parking is available near the outside of Philips Memorial Building.

General admission tickets are $12 and can be purchased at The purchase of tickets in advance is strongly encouraged. 

For more information about the Wells School of Music and their performances, visit

Julien Padillo is a fourth-year Media & Culture major with a minor in Digital Marketing.

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