The very first time Levi Wick ’19 visited St. Olaf College, he sang alongside hundreds of students and community members as part of Choral Day.
He was mesmerized by the beautiful sound.
“I knew at that moment — as a high school freshman — that I wanted to join a choir in college,” he says. “When it came time to look at schools, St. Olaf was at the top of my list.”
He has not been disappointed. Now in his second year at St. Olaf, Wick says being a member of a St. Olaf choral ensemble provides “a sense of community, the chance to sing with amazingly talented and dedicated individuals, and the opportunity to touch people’s hearts through music.”
And nothing embodies all of those things like the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival.
One of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States, the festival features more than 500 student musicians who are members of five choirs and the St. Olaf Orchestra. Each group performs individually and as part of a mass ensemble, and the event is regularly broadcast nationwide on public television and radio.
This year, for the first time, the college will also offer a live video stream of the December 4 concert.
Wick, a member of Chapel Choir, says he’s looking forward to bringing the joy and beautiful music of the Christmas Festival to an audience that reaches far beyond the nearly 10,000 people who travel to campus each year to attend. The theme of this year’s festival — Light Dawns, Hope Blooms — is especially powerful, he notes.
“I hope that our music can help people heal, give people hope, and help remind them that everything will eventually be okay,” Wick says. “I hope they are reminded that love conquers all, and love, compassion, and acceptance within our communities are what’s most important.”
Performing in the Christmas Festival for the first time last year as a member of Viking Chorus was a “surreal experience,” Wick says, that was punctuated by the tradition of ending each of the four concerts with a performance of Beautiful Savior — a deeply moving arrangement by St. Olaf Choir founder F. Melius Christiansen.
“Throughout the year, we work hard together to create music that moves our audience, that touches each of their lives in a special way,” Wick says. “And at the same time, the music touches each of us while singing.”
Wick, a political science and French major, says the opportunity to sing in a choral ensemble at St. Olaf — while pursuing majors outside of music and getting involved in campus organizations like the Political Awareness Committee — is everything he had hoped for in a college experience.
“I am so glad I chose St. Olaf. There is no place I’d rather go,” he says. “I will take the memories, the experience, and the life lessons I’ve learned with me as I head out into the world. No matter what I do after I graduate, I will always be an Ole.”
Watch Wick’s choral experience unfold in the video below.