Getting Schooled 

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Although a vast majority of college students exit Richmond during the holidays, some of them leave sweet yuletide cheer behind.

The University of Richmond's annual Christmas Candlelight Service has become such a hot ticket with students and the community that the sponsoring Department of Music holds two services in the school's Cannon Memorial Chapel. In addition to traditional hymns and carols sung by the mixed Schola Cantorum and the University Women's Chorale, there will be some audience participation. “We'll incorporate four Christmas carols for the assembly to sing — pieces that people would know like ‘Good Christian Friends Rejoice,'” says Jeffrey Riehl, the choral director who'll help lead the voices with David Pederson. There also will be a 20-minute pre-service concert featuring selections from Handel's “Messiah.”

At Virginia Commonwealth University there's the Winter Lights illumination, set for Nov. 20 in the commons plaza. This free event features a synthetic ice rink, and cider and cookies will be offered. “Along with our seasonal mix of music, the Notochords of VCU will be performing,” organizer Justin Brooks Castonguay says. “They are an a cappella group at VCU performing a selection of holiday and winter songs.”

 For more seasonal sounds, the long-running annual Holiday Gala will be held at the Singleton Center Dec. 4. “The whole VCU Music Department is pretty much involved,” says John Patykula, associate professor of music. “This is one of the few times during the year when we all come together.” Groups such as the French Horn Ensemble, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Commonwealth Singers will present seasonal chestnuts at this 90-minute, family-friendly show. Be prepared for a version of “Jingle Bells” with Turkish rhythms, and two separate guitar ensembles performing “The 12 Guitars of Christmas,” during which the history of the stringed instrument will be recounted through a classic holiday melody. “And it's all for a good cause,” says Patykula, who notes that proceeds benefit the Hospital Hospitality House. — Don Harrison

Virginia Commonwealth's Winter Lights Celebration is Nov. 20 in the student commons plaza. 7 p.m. start. Free. For information call 828-4554.

Virginia Commonwealth University's Holiday Gala is Dec. 4 at the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m. Tickets $5. Call 828-6776 for tickets and information.

The University of Richmond's annual Christmas Candlelight Service, sponsored by the Department of Music, will be held Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Cannon Memorial Chapel. 289-8282.


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