Annual concert brings holiday season to SU

"Holidays at Hendricks" featured several well-known holiday songs including "O Holy Night," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Winter Wonderland."

The chapel lights darkened as both choir and audience members held onto lit candlesticks. It was the beginning of the concert’s final song, “Silent Night,” and a favorite of Emily Cirillo.

"The lights are turned out and the chapel glows," said Cirillo, director of the Hendricks Chapel Handbell Ringers. "To me, this is when the holiday season officially begins."

Hendricks Chapel held its annual “Holidays at Hendricks” concert Sunday evening. Candles, wreaths and garland decorated the chapel. The Hendricks Chapel Choir, the Hendricks Chapel Handbell Ringers and the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble performed along with university organist Kola Owolabi, oboist Anna Petersen Stearns, pianist Bill DiCosimo and other solo artists.

The concert drew a good turnout, albeit smaller than last year’s event. Those who missed the concert can watch it on WCNY-TV or listen to it on Classic FM 91.3 later this month.

Cirillo, the Hendricks Chapel Handbell Ringers’ director, said she loves that the concert is broadcast on both television and radio. Every year, she records the broadcast and gathers her ringers for a "viewing party" in the spring semester, she said.

The brass ensemble, choir, handbell ringers and Owolabi opened the concert with “Sussex Carol.” The groups and solo artists performed popular holiday songs, including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and “O Holy Night.”

About halfway through the concert, audience members stood up and joined the choir in singing both “Let It Snow!” and “Winter Wonderland.” Several people put their arms around those standing next to them while singing, "But if you really hold me tight, all the way home I'll be warm."

Bruce Paulsen, a local singer and an on-air host for WCNY-FM, performed a theatrical rendition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” People in the crowd laughed as he sang and looked into the crowd mischievously.

Kerry Lerew sang “Glory, Glory, Glory to the Newborn King” and was accompanied by the Hendricks Chapel Choir. Her husband Thomas, a graduate assistant in the Choral Studies Department at SU, was the guest conductor for the song.

Elaine and Dolan Bisbee, both of Syracuse, are anything but first-timers to the concert. The couple has attended the “Holidays at Hendricks” event for the past eight years and plans on returning next year, Elaine said. For Elaine, one of the concert's major perks is how its traditional music allows her to recollect past holiday experiences.

Katie Scanlon, 28, an academic coordinator at the SU Athletic Department, attended the concert for the first time on Sunday and said she will probably go again next year. Scanlon said she thinks holiday music unifies people.

"It's just got a spirit of kindness, giving, caring and compassion," she said. "It brings everybody together."

The concert will be broadcast on WCNY-TV channels 24.1 and 24.4 on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 23 at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 25 at 10 p.m. It will be broadcast on Classic FM 91.3 on Monday, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 25 at 8 a.m.

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