Mississippi College

Festival of Lights Spotlights the Holiday Season at MC

November 8, 2007

For more than two decades, Mississippi College's Festival of Lights has brightened the holiday season on the Clinton campus. Just weeks away, the 2007 celebration of music promises to put MC audiences in a joyful Christmas mood.

The 22nd annual Festival of Lights is booked from Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at MC's historic Provine Chapel. Performances by the MC Singers and a contingent of faculty should deliver a diversity of musical selections - from Kenyan folks songs to well-known seasonal favorites - said James Meaders, chairman of the MC Music Department.

Over the years, many concert-goers say the Festival of Lights "has come to represent the beginning of their Christmas season," said Meaders, who also serves as director of choral activities. Expect the MC Singers to be ready when 7:30 p.m. comes on opening night. They've prepared for the festival since the first week of the fall semester in late August, Meaders noted.

Part of a tradition at the Christian university, the evening festival begins with scores of MC students entering a darkened Provine Chapel holding candles as they sing "Of the Father's Love Begotten." About 30 professors will join the 55-member MC Singers for the uplifting production that encourages the community to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The program closes with the choir exiting the 147-year-old chapel in darkness with candles in hand.

"It is very sacred for us as members," said MC student Sarah Beth Pritchard, 20, a Houston, Texas resident who first joined the MC Singers as a freshman. "It centers around Christ's birth," added the music education major. "It brings out the spirit of Christmas."

Tara Lytal, the manager of Main Street Clinton and MC graduate, said the university's Festival of Lights, like Mistletoe Marketplace in Jackson, truly signals the start of the Christmas season. 'It is an awesome experience to sit quietly in the chapel and be surrounded by the glow of candlelight and the sounds of the season," she said. "We are fortunate to have quality presentations such as this in our community."

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at the Department of Music or at the door.

Over the course of the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances, the Festival of Lights will provide an opportunity for the MC community and families in the Jackson area to catch the MC Singers before they travel to New York in early 2008. MC's premier choral group will have the honor of performing at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall, with Meaders conducting. For some, it's a return trip. The MC Singers last performed at Carnegie Hall in April 2006.

The show in the Big Apple is one of many road programs for the MC Singers. In recent years, the group has entertained audiences around the United States, and in England, Italy and Slovenia.

For more information on the Festival of Lights and other performances of the Mississippi College Singers, call the Department of Music at 601-925-3440 or go to music@mc.edu

Mississippi College is ushering in the Christmas season in other ways. The "Lighting of the Quad," is being planned by students for late November. The heart of the Clinton campus will be bathed in lights and so will a Christmas tree on Tuesday Nov. 27. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., activities will include the singing of Christmas carols and the reading of the Christmas story.

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