Many thanks to reader Katie for passing along the following information about this neighborhood tradition:
The Catholic University of America and the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will celebrate the 25th annual Christmas Concert for Charity on Friday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Sponsored jointly by the University and the Basilica, the concert benefits a different charity each year.
This year, a freewill offering will be taken for the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation, which raises money to support a highly regarded infant and maternity hospital located 500 yards from the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem.
Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the basilica, said the hospital “stands as a beacon of hope for women, children and families throughout the Holy Land.”
“For 25 years, the National Shrine and The Catholic University of America have collaborated in producing the Christmas Concert for Charity,” he said. “I am pleased that for this 25th anniversary concert, we have chosen the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation as the beneficiary of the concert.
“The Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation raises funds to support the hospital, which provides urgent medical care to help the poorest of the poor throughout the Holy Land without regard to religion, nationality, or financial ability,” he said.
“Given the continued unrest and the many injured and displaced because of war in the very land in which our Lord walked, designating the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation as the beneficiary of this year’s 25th Anniversary Christmas Concert is a small collaboration in working toward healing and peace for peoples in the Holy Land.”
The first portion of the concert features the Choir of the Basilica, conducted by Peter Latona, director of music. The second half will feature the CUA Chamber Choir, University Singers, University Chorus, and the CUA Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor and director of choral studies and the Institute of Sacred Music.
As in the past 14 years, the concert will feature the premiere of a new work by a CUA student or faculty member. This year’s performance features the premiere of “Nativity” by Jeff Cortazzo, a doctoral student from Palmerton, Pa.
“Nativity” is the first two movements of what will eventually be a full cantata focusing on the birth of Christ. Cortazzo drew the texts from the gospels of John and Luke.
“I believe the bible is the word of God, every single word, so to handle that is a very daunting task,” he said.
Other works performed at the concert will include:
• Music composed as the Catholic faith came to the Americas:
• The Peruvian processional hymn, “Hanacpachap Cussicuinin,” the earliest published polyphonic work in the New World
• Manuel de Sumaya’s “¡Albricias mortales! que viene la aurora” for the Cathedral of Mexico City, performed by faculty and alumni soloists
• A set of three works to pray for peace:
• Francis Poulenc’s “Priez pour paix”
• From Joseph Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai, “Agnus Dei … Dona Nobis Pacem”
• Franz Xaver Gruber’s “Silent Night,” in a setting by Leo Nestor
• Sussex Carol’s “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing”
• Jan Sandström’s “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
• The premiere of Leo Nestor’s “I Sing of a Maiden”
• Max Reger’s “Mariä Wiegenlied”
• “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
• George Frideric Handel’s “Hallelujah” in Mozart’s orchestration
Admission is free, and early seating is recommended.
Free parking is available at the Basilica Harewood Road parking lot. For more information on the concert, visit music.cua.edu orwww.nationalshrine.com.