That Meredith College's "Winterfest" would be plenty festive was never in doubt. The "winter" dimension was established by the bracing breezes of a bright Sunday afternoon and by the selections of the Chorale. Communications and Performing Arts department head Fran Page brought on this group, some twenty-five strong, for "Tundra," a brrr-inducing piece by the Norwegian-born and Juilliard-educated composer Ola Gjeilo. Brenda Fernandez's "piano continuo" and Laura Beth Dawson's soprano were vital to the work. Yet another Norwegian, Frode Fjelheim contributed "Eatnemen Vuile," from the land of the Lapps. This composer is noted for furnishing the music in the Disney film Frozen. Here the singers performed expertly from memory, boosted by the piano and the insistent beat of Colin Fernandez's drums. These frigid works followed the warmer "Deo Gracias" and "There Is No Rose," with pleasing oboe by Erica Battles.
All of Meredith's music entities performed for the sizable audience in Jones Auditorium. (The program was repeated for still another gathering later in the evening.) Christmas was in evidence from the beginning with conductor Jim Waddelow and the Meredith Sinfonietta. Snippets of all known Christmas songs and well-crafted sound effects were complemented by Meredith Vice President Jean Jackson's narration. Two of the pieces in this set were arranged by students, Angela Bloemeke and CVNC's own Chelsea Huber.
The Meredith Chorus, a smaller group than the Chorale, presented four pieces under the direction of Laura Justus Sam, again with piano accompaniment by Brenda Fernandez. "Babe of Bethlehem" featured piano and vocal parts in effective precision. Katie Green's violin enhanced "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem," but much of the time it needed a bit more volume.
The small ensemble "Encore!" listed DeMar Austin Neal IV as conductor. But the group performed their numbers without formal leader. All three pieces, arranged by Neal, were performed a cappella and without scores. "Silent Night" was a highly stylized version, and "The Encore! Twelve Days of Christmas" combined the traditional "Twelve Days" with a humorous pastiche of other Christmas songs, all to an elaborate and clownish choreography.
Kent Lyman's group Octavia featured the lively piano four hands work of Chelsea Huber, Lily Stavish, Jessica Williford, and Carly Zeugschmidt. The festivities closed in traditional manner with all singers (alumnae invited to participate) lined along the side walls of the auditorium and performing the John Rutter arrangement of "Personent Hodie."
Scattered throughout the evening were "Everyone Sings" sections wherein the audience members were urged to chime in. Former Music Department Head David Lynch furnished the organ accompaniment to these interludes. Perhaps the singing here failed to match Lynch's celebrated refinement, but it was energetic – and loud.