A Baylor Christmas is set to make a euphoric comeback, 7:30 pm, Thursday and Friday, December 1-2, and 3 pm, Sunday, December 4. The beloved performance returns to Jones Concert Hall in front of a full live audience for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Lynne Gackle, Mary Gibbs Jones Chair in Music, Chair of the Ensemble Division and Director of Choral Activities, said the concert will recapture the beauty and excitement that has always been A Baylor Christmas for audience members. This year also includes changes to the television production sent to local stations across the country.
"A Baylor Christmas 2022 will be a chance to once again capture the musical magic and the joy of the Christmas season in person for our Baylor family and surrounding communities, but the concert will not be recorded by KWTX," says Gackle. She explains that this change was originally intended to occur in 2020 based on a joint decision between KWTX and the School of Music to record every other year. The arrival of the pandemic disrupted these plans.
"With the pandemic and recognizing that we all needed beautiful music in our lives, especially at Christmas, we chose to re-air the production from 2018 during the 2020 Christmas season," she says. "Last year, when Baylor was holding 'in-person' classes, though still masked and under COVID protocols, with the support and blessing of the Baylor administration and the BU Health Team, we were able to record a full performance of A Baylor Christmas. The performance was recorded without masks, recording each segment, each choir, each orchestral and each handbell selection, singularly without an audience."
Audio editing concluded over the summer, and according to Gackle, KWTX producer Daniel Hamilton is in the final production and editing stage of A Baylor Christmas 2021 which will be sent to all affiliates and aired nationwide through Gray Entertainment this December for the very first time.
The title of this year's production is "Light Beyond Shadows" and the music was intentionally selected to highlight that, even though the pandemic cast a lasting shadow, the Light of Christ shines brightly beyond those shadows. The theme also celebrates the Christ Child who is the light of the world. Gackle points toward Paul Wigmore's (1925-2014) text:
"Light beyond shadows, Joy beyond tears,
Love that is greater when darkest our fears;
deeper the Peace when the storm is around,
nearer the Hope to the lost who is found."
"Composer Dan Forrest's musical setting of this text will open the performance and from that point forward, the music will be focused on joy," said Gackle. "We need joy in our lives and the Christmas season reminds us of the reason for our unending joy."
Gackle said the musicians are excited to perform in front of a live audience and experience the ultimate feeling of sharing and connection for each of the students and conductors.
"The energy that is felt from the audience is indescribable," she says. For many in our community, A Baylor Christmas starts their Christmas season. This is also true for our students, many of whom have 'heard stories' about the A Baylor Christmas experience and now are so very excited to finally experience it for themselves."
Tickets go on sale November 1 at 10 a.m. via baylor.edu/tickets.