'The Tree of Life My Soul Hath Seen'

'Christmas at Luther' performances Nov. 30-Dec. 3

In celebration of the holiday season, the faith of the community and the continued celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Luther College will present the 2017 production of "Christmas at Luther" Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther campus. This is the 38th season of "Christmas at Luther" performances.  

The five "Christmas at Luther" performances are at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30; 6:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3.

Tickets are $25-$35 and may be purchased online at tickets.luther.edu. Patrons may also purchase tickets through the Luther Ticket Office, telephone (563) 387-1357 or [email protected], open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9-10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

The 2017 production, titled "The Tree of Life My Soul Hath Seen," comes from the hymn, "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree." It ties back to a quote credited to Luther College's namesake Martin Luther, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

Theatre Professor Jeff Dintaman created the focal point of the show—a tree with a core featuring a rustic cross. Trees will be a constant theme for the production, following the cycle of life as the trees go through fall and winter to sprouting new leaves in the spring, showing a renewal of life and hope. Ornaments decorated by Luther College students, faculty and staff will adorn trees inside the Center of Faith and Life, welcoming the audience to the show.

The Reformation will also be a constant theme. This year's "Christmas at Luther" is the final event in Luther's year-long recognition of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Trees also played a role in the Reformation commemoration this year, with Bishop Elizabeth Eaton blessing a newly planted tree on campus during the spring convocation. The Luther community also planted a tree in Wittenberg, Germany, to connect the campus to its religious roots. The performance includes Martin Luther's hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" with percussion invoking the sound of Luther nailing the theses to the door of the church.

The concert showcases the talents of more than 500 musicians, and for the first time, conductors for all the major ensembles will conduct their own ensembles. Director of Bands Joan deAlbuquerque joins the production this year to direct the brass fanfares at the opening and finale played by members of the brass section from the Luther College Concert Band.

Other performers include Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Baldwin, professor of music; Nordic Choir, conducted Andrew Last, director of choral activities and assistant professor of music, Luther class of 1997; Luther Ringers, conducted by Gregory Peterson, college organist and professor of music, Luther class of 1983; Cathedral Choir and Norsemen, conducted by Mark Potvin, instructor in music, Luther class of 2001; Aurora and Collegiate Choir, conducted by Jennaya Robison, assistant professor of music, Luther class of 1996; and Cantorei, conducted by Jill Wilson, assistant professor of education and coordinator for music education.

The 2017 "Christmas at Luther" soundtrack is available for pre-order through the Luther Box Office at tickets.luther.edu. Previous "Christmas at Luther" recordings are available at lutherbookshop.com or by phone at (888) 521-5039.

Each year more than 8,000 people attend the "Christmas at Luther" performances. Past concerts have been broadcast on 94 percent of all PBS television stations nationwide along with radio broadcasts on Public Radio station including Minnesota and Iowa. Check the Christmas at Luther website, http://www.luther.edu/christmas-at-luther/broadcast/, for local radio broadcasts of the concert. This year's concert will be filmed and delay-streamed shortly before Christmas. To view streamed events, visit stream.luther.edu/music.

Luther is home to one of the largest collegiate music programs in the nation, with six choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and nearly 800 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. More than 275 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance.