The Birmingham-Southern Alumni Choir has released its debut holiday CD, featuring a collection of Advent and Christmas music made from live performances at the college’s annual Carol Service from 1978-2010.
The 25 selections, entitled “Come to the Celebration,” range from 19th-century Brahms and an early motet to spirituals and traditional anthems and carols. They include tracks by major composers as well as those written and arranged by past and present members of the BSC faculty.
Five members of the Birmingham-Southern Alumni Choir coordinated the production of the holiday CD as a philanthropy project: Mary Jo Lowery West of Birmingham, Donald Brown of Tuscaloosa, Dr. Danny Potts and Ellen Woodward Potts of Tuscaloosa, and James Seay of Tuscaloosa. All proceeds will go to the BSC Music Department.
The music is sung mostly a cappella, although organ and other instruments are used at times. The repertoire includes "Twelfth Night," "O TannenBaum," "Ave Maria," "The Oxen," "Good King Wenceslas,” and "Silent Night." Among the soloists are Seay, Daniel Seigel, and Ellen Potts.
Conductors on the CD are Hugh Thomas, the late BSC professor of music, Timothy Thomas, and Dr. Lester Seigel, Joseph Hugh Thomas Professor of Music at BSC. Jim Cook, BSC professor emeritus of music, is organist.
The title, Come to the Celebration, was taken from an anthem written for the choir by Hugh Thomas, who directed the Alumni Choir at its origin in 1978.
“Mr. Thomas was a mentor to so many of us who sang in the BSC Concert Choir as students,” stated Brown. “We put together this CD as much to honor his memory as to benefit the Music Department at Birmingham-Southern.”
“The CD is a treasure of quality music that’s disappearing from churches,” West said. “We’ve been privileged to come back over the years and become a part of the college’s rich musical tradition.”
This season, there is even more to celebrate. The new CD offers a sneak preview of the choir’s upcoming performance at the 75th anniversary of the BSC Carol Service. The annual service is a tradition that unites the campus and audience members from near and far to open the holiday season. The college’s Southern Chorale, Concert Choir, and Alumni Choir will present Lessons and Carols on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 4:30 p.m. at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook. The holiday CD will be available for purchase at each performance.
Lester Seigel, who is a college alumnus and current director of the Alumni Choir and College Choir, commented: “The new compact disc, featuring selections from over 30 years of the BSC Alumni Choir, shows the love and passion our dedicated alumni continue to bring through their music, not just to those who come to the BSC Carol Service each December, but throughout the year in their own churches, and as music teachers and performers throughout the region.”
Come to the Celebration is available at the BSC Bookstore or through its website, http://bookstore.bsc.edu, for $20. All music was taken from original recordings made by BSC alumnus Tom Petras.