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Deck the Hall: Spivey Hall hosts recital, Christmas concert to close semester

(December 5, 2023) - As the fall semester draws to a close and studying for finals has once again become part of the daily routine for many at Clayton State, some may find themselves in need of a break to try and finish the fall off on as calm a note as possible.

Both the university's Chorale and Orchestra performed at the 2023 "Christmas at Clayton State" Concert

To close out November, the university’s Dept. of Film, Communication, and Performing Arts hosted a pair of free music events at Spivey Hall, showcasing the musical talents of both Clayton State’s students and faculty.

A Student Curated Recital was held on Wednesday, Nov. 29 while the university’s Chorale and Orchestra both played along with the Spivey Hall Masterworks Chorus the following night in the university’s 2023 Christmas Concert.

Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller, the department’s coordinator of the music division said that hearing music, particularly holiday music this time of year, presents a chance to offer relief to all on campus who may find themselves stressed over the looming final tests and assignments.

“Exams are right around the corner, end of semester projects are coming up,” Zeller said. “If you need a place for a little bit of stress relief, whether it's having something that's super-high energy or just a moment of absolute loveliness – a sort of repose to relax and think, ‘oh, that's so beautiful and I’m not thinking about my English paper ...’ this is something that we offer to the university.”

When discussing the two programs, Zeller expressed great excitement, saying both student achievement and plenty of great music would be on hand for all to enjoy.

The curated recital, he said, always features “different kinds of ensembles, performances, periods of music,” and more, while showing the best of what Lakers can offer.

“The curated recital we have every semester,” Zeller said. “Every Wednesday morning, we have a music convocation where the music majors and minors get together and perform for one another. Then the faculty select from among those performances which [ones] we feel represent the best work that our students do.”

As for the “Christmas at Clayton State” show, Zeller said that several well-known pieces would be featured to get both Lakers and the surrounding community in the Christmas spirit.

Some of the featured works in this year’s program included the Corelli Christmas Concerto, Mozart’s “Alma Dei Redemptoris,” and even some pieces from the famous King’s College Service of Lessons and Carols, all conducted and prepared by Drs. Sean Vogt and Richard Bell.

Additionally, Zeller said the crowd in attendance joyfully partook in the music, themselves, singing along with Christmas carols performed by the students.

“I would guess that the house was about two-thirds full,” Zeller said. “They sang along with great enthusiasm when invited to join in on ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.’”

Zeller further added that while the entire night was certainly special, seeing some of Clayton State’s seniors playing in their final show in Spivey Hall as students was particularly memorable.

At the concert, Zeller said that Dr. Bell recognized and gave traditional farewells to senior oboist Sarah Marchant and senior bass player Temisan Nicholl.

Both will be leaving the Clayton State University Orchestra to do their final semester’s student teaching internship.

Zeller said they both were presented with gifts and cheered on by their both their peers and all in the audience.

Additionally, he added, the audience seemed to not just collectively love the concert, but also wished it could’ve been prolonged.

“One unidentified audience member was overheard to say, ‘sometimes at a concert, you sit there wondering when it’s going to end, but I wished this one would keep going for longer!’”

“The big party,” as Zeller called it was just that once again, proving to impressively show off the growth of many of Clayton State’s musical students while ringing in the long-awaited holiday season.

The coordinator said that, for many reasons, this time of year is special and he’s grateful that so many have made attending Clayton State’s yearly Christmas Concert a key reason why.

“People enjoy what we do all year long, but there's something about the holiday season that [makes] people seem to think they need music even more than normal,” Zeller said. “I think that people do want to have something, so we just decided we'd make it a tradition.”

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