VESPERS: NOT YOUR AVERAGE CHRISTMAS CAROL

PHS and NWC Concert Choirs combine to bring holiday cheer.

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Courtesy Photo: Stefani Gray Hicswa

The NWC Concert Choir preforming at the annual Vespers Concert.

The Powell community of Powell gathered at the First United Methodist Church on the evening of Dec. 11 to get into the spirit of the season.

Northwest College and PHS Concert Choirs performed the annual Vespers. PHS choir director Mr. John Miller and NWC choral director Dr. Lara Moline teamed up to work on preparing this event.

“Preparation for Vespers starts the last weeks of October to prepare the level and number of songs that we perform,” senior Ashlyn Aguirre said. “While practices go on for several weeks, the show is completely worth it because we can go in being confident.”

This is the 21st year of performing this event, which featured a 12-song repertoire.

“I believe the reason behind so many people going to watch Vespers is not only for the sake of tradition, but the atmosphere that Vespers has,” Aguirre added. “The candlelight silence with songs is definitely unique and a spectacle for this area.”

The students enjoy performing at this event.

“The experience cannot be described,” senior Taeli Hessenthaler said. “I cry every year. There is a reverence shown by the audience. The candle-lighting ceremony into the beautiful sacred text and Christmas songs without any outside interruptions really lets you enjoy what you’re a part of.”

The experience cannot be described, I cry every year.”

— PHS senior Taeli Hessenthaler

Alumni and other members of the community go to watch every year.

“This is a tradition that has grown from being a college performance to a community event,” Aguirre said. “Without the involvement of the high school choir, I don’t think that Vespers would be the tradition that it is.”

The evening starts with the president and vice president of PHS concert choir lighting candles. Then, all the choir members walk in together. The whole event is only lit by candles and is completely silent, other than the singing. There is no applause in between.

“The experience is formal and emotional; the songs are enjoyed in a place where the sound can resonate while being closer to you than an auditorium is,” Aguirre said. “The music goes from being notes on a page to being a story told by the brilliant melodies. The only response the audience is given is the ghost of the song they just heard. The lack of applause makes the moments more meaningful.”