Students and faculty from Sacred Music at Notre Dame had a full schedule of performances in South Bend and California the week before Christmas. The Notre Dame Children’s Choir along with an octet of graduate-student vocalists and conductors were featured performers with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alistair Willis and prepared by Dr. Mark Doerries. The octet of singers included Emily Bird, Erin Wendt, Alyse Jamieson, Fatima Anyekeyma, Nolan Carter, Brandon Hollihan, Jared Swope, and Zen Kuriyama who performed holiday classics including We Need a Little Christmas, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and works from Hollywood composer John Williams from Home Alone and Empire of the Sun. The Notre Dame Children’s Choir joined the graduate-student vocalists on many compositions and performed an arrangement of the carol Ding Dong Merrily On High with the orchestra.
To celebrate the release of Arturo Sandoval’s Christmas at Notre Dame and the album’s #2 ranking on Billboard’s Chart of Jazz Music, the Notre Dame Children’s Choir performed at Walt Disney Hall, Los Angeles, CA to a sold-out audience of 2300 patrons. The choir, along with Arturo Sandoval and his Big Band, were joined by Sacred Music at Notre Dame soprano soloist Emily Swope, undergradaute pianist and arranger of seven tracks on the album Alex Mansour, and faculty conductor Mark Doerries.
While in California, the Notre Dame Children’s Choir mounted a performance of the jazz Advent cantata O Emmanuel at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church of Huntington Beach. The Notre Dame Children’s Choir was led by graduate-student conductors Erin Wendt and Joshua Wang, with soloists Emily Swope, soprano; Alyse Jamieson, mezzo-soprano; Nolan Carter, tenor; and Emorja Roberson, baritone. Composer J.J. Wright (‘17, DMA) performed at the piano with bassist John Belzaguy and drummer Johnny Friday. Notre Dame staff members Dr. Daniel Stein, concertmaster, and Dr. Rose Wollman, violaist, led the orchestra and Suze Villano and Clayton Brown managed the choristers along their cross-country journey. The ensemble also sang for mass at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church to a congregation of over 900 worshipers. O Emmanuel was also performed at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame two week earlier, led by Notre Dame Children’s Choir Assistant Conductor Erin Donegan.
University of Notre Dame alumni Ignacio and Monica Lozano supported the ensemble’s performances and provided tickets to Disneyland. The performers also explored the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach and the Winter Glow light display at Grand Park of Los Angeles. Arturo Sandoval’s Christmas at Notre Dame has sold almost 6,000 copies nationally, and the Notre Dame Children’s Choir’s prior album, O Emmanuel, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Chart of Traditional Classical Music in 2015.