The Goshen College Music Department will conclude the semester this weekend with the traditional Festival of Carols concert in Sauder Concert Hall.

The concert, now a highly anticipated event, starts the holiday season with a massive program incorporating all aspects of the music department; it features traditional Christmas carols and creative renditions of popular songs. Dustin George Miller, office coordinator for the Music Center, says that the Festival of Carols began in 2004 as “a way to create something new.”

To add to the holiday spirit, lights, wreaths and Christmas trees line Sauder Hall and selected songs are performed in low lighting, reminiscent of traditional candle-lit Christmas Eve services. The program attempts seamless transitions from one song to the next. "The goal is to move the audience visually, aurally and spiritually," said Deb Brubaker, professor of music and choir director.

The Festival of Carols is modeled after a similar program at St. Olaf’s College in Minn. Assistant Professor of Music Christopher Fashun, new to Goshen College this year, is an alumnus of St. Olaf’s. He remembers playing “Angels Dance,” one of the pieces in this year’s program, during his senior year there. He is looking forward to performing the same piece for his first Festival of Carols at Goshen.

One of the highlights of the Festival of Carols is the audience participation. Since most of the songs are familiar, the audience is invited to sing along. Professor Brubaker said that five of the songs this year will feature audience participation which “epitomizes the English tradition of carols.”

The concert is so popular that the Music Department presents it on three nights. “This is by far the most popular concert we have,” said Dustin George Miller. “The concerts frequently sell out so we encourage people to get their tickets in advance.”

According to Lisa Weaver from the Welcome Center, less than a hundred seats were left for the Friday and Saturday shows as of Tuesday. She expects both days to sell out. Sunday’s performance may have some tickets left to sell at the door. The normal ticket price is 14 dollars, but students can get tickets for Friday’s performance for 3 dollars with their I.D. card.  “We thought there would be fewer sales this year due to less large groups booking in advance but are pleased to have sold about as many tickets as normal,” she said.

The concert starts Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.