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2013 Christmas Festival memories

Merry Christmas! ​As President of the National Lutheran Choir board, I often joke about having the awesome powers to compel staff and board members alike to do my bidding. I claim to rarely abuse these powers, but this Christmas I gently insisted that board and staff members share their fondest memories from this year's Christmas Festival. As usual, every one's experience of this season is personal and unique -- and these stories left me feeling humbled and deeply grateful to be part of the National Lutheran Choir Family. There is no mention of Santa, holly jollies are absent, and no one is rockin' around any trees!

My favorite moment? This year my Godchild was able to hear us live for the first time in St. Louis. She and her family will now make this an annual tradition.

On behalf of the NLC board, the staff, choir president Katherine Castille and myself, may you each have a blessed and safe Christmas.

Mark Uecker (tenor in the NLC and board president)


Thank you for the wonderful music shared with so many these past two weekends. Singers: your artistry is exquisite. David (Cherwien): the program was perfect in so many ways. Susan (Cherwien): thank you for your marvelous words and voice.  And staff team: thank you for attending to the details that make such offerings possible. The Kevin Siegfried, the Praetorius, the Bach, the Swedish, the Xhosa (click!) and so much more...Illuminare Jerusalem!

Merry Christmas to you and to all those you hold dear! 
Ann Sponberg Peterson
(NLC board member and development officer at Luther College, development and planning committee)


To the choir.... 

Thank you for being light in the darkness, welcome in the midst of division, and love that casts out fear. May you and your loved ones know joy, respite and peace in these holy days. You are a blessing and you are blessed.   

Cheryl Persigehl
 (NLC board member, management consultant, chair of the development committee)


We trace our involvement and support for NLC to our first Basilica Christmas concert some 20 years ago. The mystery and magnificence of the beginning, culminating with the procession up the center isle, struck like quiet thunder. When the shaken bell tree was almost to the front, I realized I had been holding my breath. The moment had literally taken my breath away. This years experience was equally powerful. For us, this is a gift of immeasurable worth that you, the choir, give freely each year. For that, we can only say... 
Thank You.

Merry Christmas and the best to you all in 2014.

Dave & Joan Floren
​(Dave is an NLC board member, retired ad exec, determined farmer and chair of the communications committee)


To the choir...

Since I am not a member of the choir, I must sit in the audience and enjoy the experience from that perspective.  And enjoy it I do.  I love the quiet and hushed mood, the beauty of the music, the worshipful feeling of the cathedral and the fact that Santa is not mentioned even once! But, there is one way that I get to participate that really makes it special for me.  For the past several years, I have been a member of the liturgical party that precedes the choir in during the processional. I love to see the faces of the people as I walk by singing and smiling and really enjoying the experience of being in that beautiful church enjoying that beautiful program. Thank you for all you do to provide that wonderful experience to so many people.  I know that this time of the year is busy anyway and having to add all the rehearsal and performance time for these concerts is difficult at best. But, offering this program is a real gift to the community from all of you. Please know that we appreciate it more than you know and that your efforts do not go unnoticed.  

Happy Holidays to you all!
Linda Holmen
​(NLC secretary, board and executive committee member)


What makes you cry during a concert? If you are working the "front of house" as I do for the Christmas Festivals, it might be a cranky customer or a moment of musical magic marred by a mumbling malcontent. For me, every time, it was the processional him: "O Morningstar, How Fair and Bright." It wasn't the blubbering cry one has at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life." It wasn't the sniffling cry one has after a Vikings game. It was the catch-in-the-throat-so-you-can't-keep-singing cry at the beauty of hearing all those voices: the choir, the congregation, the older man four rows ahead on the left and my colleague, Tina, sitting right in front of me.

Thank you! and Merry Christmas!
Randall Davidson
(NLC administrative director)


So many people came up to me at church today (Sunday, December 22) to tell how moved they were by yesterday's Christmas Festival at Christ Church Cathedral in St Louis. The most frequently heard comment was marvel and appreciation for the "pianissimo" that only NLC can do.

Steve Rach
​(NLC board member living in St Louis, finance committee member and producing impresario for the St Louis Christmas Festival)


I wanted to share a little story that was moving to me. I helped a young women get tickets to our concert; the woman is a college student and has a son who is afflicted with muscular dystrophy. As a complication of this disease, he is losing his hearing. He is completely deaf in one ear and the other is failing. She wants him to hear music while he still has a chance and she was so grateful when I told her that he would be admitted free of charge and that we have a special price for college students. Of course, the idea that some of the last music this boy will hear is ours--packed with meaning and beauty--makes me want to cry. It also makes me incredibly proud of and grateful for what the choir does.

Tina Meckel
​(NLC director of development)