Stetson University Christmas Candlelight Concert

Filed under: Orlando Events |

A couple of weeks ago we had the privilege to attend the Stetson University Christmas Candlelight Concert. The concert was held in the Lee Chapel inside Elizabeth Hall on N. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand.

The focal point of the chapel is the amazing pipe organ built in 1961 by the firm of Rudolph von Beckerath of Hamburg and recently renovated by Beckerath’s student, Hans-Ulrich Erbslöh. The organ represented a revolutionary departure from the generally accepted norms in American organ building.  It foreshadowed and strongly influenced a re-birth of classic organ design in the U.S.   The Paul R. Jenkins Jr. Beckerath Organ has profoundly affected the lives and thoughts of countless musicians and craftspersons.   It is a marvelous example of the period regarded by many as the apex of Beckerath’s creative efforts.  It speaks today with a voice as fresh as ever.

Stetson’s Beckerath Organ was named for Paul R. Jenkins, Jr., Organ Professor Emeritus, following his retirement.  The distinguished, mechanical-action concert instrument is capable of authentically performing a wide range of organ literature.  Internationally recognized, the Beckerath organ has had seminal influence on organ building in America and has been featured on the cover of Orgel Internationale.

The first modern European tracker-action organ of its kind built in an American college or university performance space, it was shipped piece-by-piece via boat from Hamburg, Germany, to DeLand, Florida, where it was installed in 1961.  It includes 2,700 pipes, ranging from 18 feet in length to the size of a pencil.  In 1992, a new case was built by Charles Nazarian to complement the chapel’s traditional look.  In 2004, the organ was arduously cleaned, and many improvements were made, including a new console and pedal board.

The Christmas concert featured the Stetson University Concert Choir, with conductors Dr. Andrew Larson and Dr. Milburn Price. Tickets were sold out a long way in advance and we considered ourselves very fortunate to be able to attend. Traditional favorites like O Come, All Ye Faithful, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Silent Night were also mixed with Austrian yodel tunes and carols like Shepherd’s Yodel Carol and Still, Still, Still and both the Stetson Women’s Chorale and the Concert Choir performed superbly with various instrumentalists, readers and soloists for a very memorable concert.

Here’s some video:

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