Prep for Wartburg tradition underway

Ritterchor started learning their songs four weeks before group rehearsals for Christmas with Wartburg started. — Jessica Hoyng/TRUMPET
Ritterchor started learning their songs four weeks before group rehearsals for Christmas with Wartburg started. — Jessica Hoyng/TRUMPET

The trees are lit, the backdrop is up, and the stage is set — it’s time for another Christmas with Wartburg season.

Every year around the holiday season, several departments, ensembles and offices team up to put on Christmas with Wartburg.

The show is performed by the Wartburg Choir, St. Elizabeth Chorale, Ritterchor and the Wind Ensemble.

The Neumann Crew is involved in producing the show and ensures that the show runs smoothly.

Several other campus offices are also involved.

“One of the things I enjoy most is the collaboration of all the different groups and the different art forms and the different people across campus, from the Communication and Marketing program, to the Campus Ministry to the Development,

Admissions, Alumni, then of course throughout the entire music building,” Dr. Lee Nelson, Wartburg Choir director and executive producer of Christmas with Wartburg, said.

Christmas with Wartburg uses art and music to tell the same basic story, the Christmas story, each year, but with a different approach.

Nelson works with a team of other music department faculty to determine a new theme for each year’s show.

“That’s why I think the theme is so important. It focuses our perspective. It focuses through what lens we’re looking at the Christmas story and the holiday season,” Nelson said.

The theme each year is illustrated with the music choices, the show narration and the decor and backdrop.

This year’s theme, The Marvel of the Night, is based on the song “Before the Marvel of this Night.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing the theme come alive for the audience and for the performers so that it becomes a very beautiful experience for them, not just entertainment,” Dr. Leonard Upham, director of the Wind Ensemble, said.

Dr. Craig Hancock, director of the Wartburg College Concert Bands, is on sabbatical this semester, so Upham, a retired music educator who formerly directed bands at the University of Northern Iowa, is directing the Wind Ensemble.

Upham was also involved with Christmas with Wartburg when Hancock was on sabbatical in 2004.

“It was a much simpler setup [in 2004]. The wind ensemble was on the stage and the choirs were down in front. And all I recall is just decorations on the stage. There was no backdrop or anything like that. It’s a big change,” Upham said.

Nelson said he hopes students will invite friends and family to the show.

“It’s an event that will surely put people in the mindset, the right mood for the holiday season,” Nelson said.

On Friday, Dec. 6, the show will travel to Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines for a performance at 7:30 p.m.

Performances will be in Neumann Auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.

Tickets for most of the shows are sold out, but a few are still available.

For more information and to order tickets, visit

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Prep for Wartburg tradition underway | Jessica Hoyng's Portfolio

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *