To welcome the Christmas Season, the Villanova Pastoral Musicians (Pastorals) held their first concert in two years on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at St. Thomas of Villanova Church.
The night’s theme was “All is Calm, All is Bright” and featured both traditional and non-traditional Christmas music from a variety of composers and time periods. The prelude song, “Silent Night,” was performed by the sophomore string quartet group Consocio.
President of Pastorals, senior Daniel Gorman, and vice president and senior Lucy Cobble, welcomed Pastorals’ first concert audience since March 2020. Following the welcome was an introduction by Sean McElwee, the Campus Minister for Liturgical Music.
“It is such a privilege to be able to sing and play together in a concert setting again after two years,” Gorman said. “Everyone has put in an incredible amount of work to make this evening as festive and sacred as possible, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the group’s dedication and especially our director Sean McElwee’s incredible guidance and vision.”
The opening song was “O Come All Ye Faithful,” featuring a procession of the singers from the chancel to the altar. Following was an a cappella rendition of “Carol of the Bells” and “Medieval Noel,” a combination of three minor-key carols.
The Cantica Nova ensemble, a group within Pastorals that focuses on choral pieces outside of liturgical music, debuted with an acapella performance of “Spotless Rose.”
“We have been practicing our Christmas music since October,” sophomore Sadia Decastro said. “It was really cool to learn some not-so-typical tunes and appreciate the beauty of the season. I am super excited to perform in my first Christmas concert with the group I love most.”
This was Decastro’s first concert performance with Pastorals. She is a Mass coordinator and cantor within the club.
The male singers had an opportunity to perform “Magnificat,” a chant-like piece with harmonic passages. Following this was an instrumental performance of “Wachet Auf,” a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach.
“The thing I love most about the instrumentalists in Pastorals is the way we all have formed this tightly knit bond with each other that directly translates into the music we play,” sophomore Hannah Cohen said. “When we support our singers, it is coming from a place of love and trust within the instrumental community. We can rely on each other.”
Cohen is an instrumental coordinator for Pastorals and played a violin solo for the women’s performance of “Ha Shalom,” a Hebrew and English piece.
The audience was invited to join in song again during “The Night of Silence,” commonly known as “Silent Night.” The concert closed with Gustav Holst’s “Christmas Day,” a compilation of various old carols.
“The pandemic has exhausted so many of us,” McElwee said. “I think the folks who gathered Wednesday night were longing for participation in the experience we are so fortunate to have on a weekly basis: creating beautiful music in a beautiful space. I think the Pastorals were also reminded of the joy and fulfillment that comes when sharing an offering of beauty after weeks of hard work and artistic craft.”
The Pastorals welcome students of all backgrounds wishing to express and strengthen their faith through music ministry. The club performs at campus events including Orientation Mass, Parents' Weekend and Baccalaureate Mass.
Students interested in joining can reach out to existing members, email McElwee or walk up to the piano after Masses. Additional information can also be found on the Villanova Pastoral Musicians’ Facebook page and on Instagram @vupastoralmusicians.