Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
November 13, 2012

School of Music Celebrates Holiday Tradition

By Dana Casto

It's a treasured Carnegie Mellon tradition. A time to enjoy life, said Robert Page.

"The Annual Holiday Concert is just that - a celebration of the holidays, including Christmas and Chanukah, as well as the season itself," said Page, the Paul Mellon University Professor of Music and director of choral studies. "It's a time to leave academia for a while and just enjoy life."

Under Page's direction, the School of Music will present two performances of its holiday tradition on Friday, Dec. 7. The first performance will be at noon in the University Center's Rangos Ballroom, and the second performance will be at 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of the College of Fine Arts.

Both performances are free and open to the public with first-come, first-served seating. These concerts will showcase the combined forces of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, Concert Choir and Repertory Chorus.

This year's program will feature "Une Cantate de Noel (Christmas Cantata)" by Arthur Honegger. This masterpiece works together traditional carols sung in their native languages - French, German, English and Latin. Written in 1953, this is believed to be the last composition Honegger wrote before he died.

A variety of traditional carols will round out the concert, including: "Gloucestershire" and "Boar's Head Carol" for choirs and brass, which was commissioned and recorded by River City Brass with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh; The Biebl "Ave Maria," a poignant a cappella setting, a longtime favorite of choruses and a major bestseller by Chanticleer; and the late Marvin Hamlisch's popular "Chanukah Lights," a festive song celebrating the traditional Jewish holiday with a special dedication to Hamlisch, who was a cherished friend of the entire Pittsburgh community.

Graduate student Alysoun Kegel will share the conducting duties for the concerts and will conduct two of the dances from Tchaikovsky's ballet, "The Nutcracker." Michael Van Camp will direct the women of the chorus and the woodwinds of the orchestra in a Meredith Willson favorite, "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas." Music icons such as Perry Como, The Fontane Sisters and Bing Crosby recorded Willson's popular holiday classic.

Concertgoers will leave the Great Hall on a high note with the exultant "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah.

For those who cannot attend in person, the noon performance will be broadcast live on WQED-FM 89.3.

For more information about the Annual Holiday Concerts, go to

What: Annual Holiday Concert
When/Where: Friday, Dec. 7, noon, University Center
8 p.m., Great Hall of the College of Fine Arts

Page To Retire

The two performances in December will be Robert Page's final holiday concerts at CMU. Page announced his retirement at the end of this academic year after more than three decades as a member of the faculty.

Considered by his peers as the "Dean of American Choral Conductors," Page's distinguished career has included two Grammy Awards, the Prix Mondial de Montreux, the Grand Prix du Disque, and Pennsylvania's "Artist of the Year" award. The American Record Review has called Page "a national treasure" in recognition of his extensive catalog of recordings with choirs and orchestras - a collection that spans more than 44 discs.

"Maestro Page has been a prominent and enormously important member of our faculty for much of the past 37 years," said Denis Colwell, head of the School of Music. "His contributions to the school are too numerous to list and the prospect of finding a suitable replacement for this fabulous musician and pedagogue is daunting, to say the least. We will be looking for ways to honor Maestro Page throughout this school year. Please join me in congratulating him on his impending retirement, and help me thank him for his sacrifices, contributions, and hard work on behalf of generations of music students."