RHS grads perform in St. Olaf concert's centennialTwo Rosemount High School graduates will be on movie screens nationwide this weekend as part of St. Olaf College’s Christmas Festival
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
As holiday concerts go, it doesn’t get much bigger than St. Olaf College’s annual Christmas Festival. Now, as the event celebrates its 100th year this weekend, two Rosemount High School graduates find themselves right in the middle of the activity.
The students come to the concert with different perspectives. Senior Clara Jung will play clarinet in the St. Olaf orchestra for the first time this year after three years of watching from the outside as the event took over campus. Sophomore Brady Lambert will perform as a bass in the St. Olaf Cantori, a 90-member mixed choir of sophomores, juniors and seniors. He performed last year as a member of a freshman choir.
Lambert, a member of the choir at RHS, said Christmas Fest is one of the reasons he wanted to attend St. Olaf.
For both students, getting involved requires a significant commitment. Lambert has had weekly two-hour rehearsals with a mass choir of 400 to 500 singers, and each individual choir meets for its own rehearsals. Performers returned from Thanksgiving break earlier than their classmates so they could put the finishing touches on the performance in preparation for shows Thursday through Sunday.
“It’s kind of stressful, because it’s something everyone does on the side, since classes are our priority,” Jung said. “It’s a lot to think about.”
For Lambert, participation in Christmas Fest has been a requirement of being in the St. Olaf choir program, but Jung, who played in the marching band at RHS and has been a member of the band at St. Olaf, spent her first three years at St. Olaf as an observer. She watched every year as alumni came back to the school and the campus was given over to the holiday celebration. Decorations go up around the school and cafeteria dinners the weekend of Christmas Fest are devoted to traditional Norwegian food like lutefisk and lefse.
Jung, a sociology, anthropology and religion major who hopes eventually to practice marriage and family therapy, saw this year’s show as a final chance to be part of a big musical performance.
“I figured it was my last opportunity to be involved in a really good orchestra before going out into the world,” she said.
She picked a good year to get involved. Christmas Fest is always a major production, but in the centennial year there is extra pressure to get things just right. Sunday’s performance will be broadcast live on Minnesota Public Radio and beamed live to movie theaters in 46 states. PBS will record footage over the weekend for a special that will air Dec. 20.
Performers have strict rules for how they dress, and because of the PBS recording even their hairstyles have to be consistent from one performance to the next.
“It has definitely been a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end,” Lambert said. “The fact that it is airing on PBS and in theaters just adds to the excitement. The pressure is on now to get everything perfected.”
This weekend’s Christmas Fest performances are all sold out. The show will be broadcast at six theaters in the Twin Cities area. For a list, check this story at rosemounttownpages.com.