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Christmas Festival spans nation with live theater simulcast

By David Gonnerman '90
December 1, 2011

Even though 12,000 people flock to the St. Olaf campus to experience the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival, thousands around the country are unable to experience the iconic event because of geography or the inability to get the high-demand tickets. But this year festival aficionados will be able to enjoy the 100th offering of the festival — Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Sing — in the comfort of a neighborhood theater as nearly 400 cinemas across 45 states present a live simulcast of the performance Sunday, December 4, at 3 p.m. CST. A special preview program will begin at 2:30.

Watch the trailer for Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Sing.

During the past century the St. Olaf Christmas Festival has grown into a two-hour program of hymns, carols, choral works, and orchestral selections performed by 500 student musicians in five choirs and the St. Olaf Orchestra under the leadership of Artistic Director Anton Armstrong '78.

Selections in this year’s program include John Rutter's Shepherd's Pipe Carol, the spiritual The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy, Christ the Apple Tree by Stanford Scriven '11, a compilation by Steven Amundson of Carols from Scandinavia, and Ralph Vaughan Williams' resounding Ring Out, Ye Crystal Spheres.

Theater-goers will be able to join the student musicians and St. Olaf audience members in singing Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers; O Come, All Ye Faithful; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; and Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. (An abridged Christmas Festival program will be available for theater-goers to download at home.)

Visit the Simulcast Page to find a theater near you, plus a link to the ticketing site. Tickets also will be available at theater box offices. Take special note of the gold-highlighted “Ole Theaters” that will feature alumni or parent hosts creating a gathering spot for area alumni, parents, and friends. Associated events typically will occur after the concert at a nearby restaurant or gathering space.

Read more about the simulcast at Minnesota Public Radio.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or