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Tri States Public Radio Staff
St. Olaf Christmas Festival
Northfield, Minnesota welcomes over 600 student musicians for this year's annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival, a 100-year-old tradition deeply cherished in this part of the country, as well as listened to raptly by millions throughout the world.
It was over 100 years ago this December when a Norwegian immigrant named F. Melius Christiansen had the idea to bring together students, faculty and their families for an evening of singing and contemplation. Even back then, shopping, travel plans, parties and college finals made this time of year extremely hectic- and the real meaning of Christmas just got buried among long to-do lists.
As the years passed- this Christmas program really caught on- in a huge way- it's expanded into a festival of word and music that includes five choirs, a symphony orchestra, five conductors, two pastors and the 4,000 audience members who are invited to sing along- and St. Olaf's festival is one copied by college music programs all over the country.
Five choirs perform in the Christmas Festival- including the freshmen men's Viking Chorus; freshman women's Manitou Singers; the largest choir at St. Olaf, the Chapel Choir; Cantorei, a group of both singers and instrumentalists and the famed 75-member a capella St. Olaf Choir, plus a full symphony orchestra.