I have many wonderful memories from my time in the Vanguard University choirs, but one of my favorites is Christmas Fantasia. I remember starting to sing Christmas tunes well before it was “socially acceptable” to listen to Christmas music – something I was totally fine with (my roommates on the other hand, well, they had their own thoughts).
I always joked that Christmas didn’t truly start until we started the grand finale of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” at the end of the night. And I still feel that way today. One of the great things about being a local alumni is that I’ve gotten to attend Christmas Fantasia over the years since I’ve graduated. I still get emotional when we open with a candlelit rendition of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” I still laugh hysterically at the humor intertwined in the performance – a silly song sung by one of the groups, a cheeky piece from the guitar ensemble, or even the “jokes” made by the host of the evening. All of these elements bring back warm memories of Christmas Fantasia’s past.
As a student, I remember being in complete and utter shock that I was able to sing in such a stunning venue. I grew up singing the Pacific Chorale Children’s Choruses, so I was no stranger to performing in large concert venues, but this Concert Hall was on a whole different level. It was truly amazing to look out at the audience and see nearly 1000 faces looking back at me. There was nothing quite like it. All the long hours of rehearsal, lack of sleep, and vigorous preparation leading up to the concert paid off in the very moment we opened our mouths to sing the first note and were met with audience eyes full of wonder and delight.
But the true beauty in Christmas Fantasia is it really is a time for the Vanguard community and the general Costa Mesa arts community to join together. Since we’ve held the concert in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, it’s felt like a premiere arts performance that the whole community is a part of, not just Vanguard students, staff, faculty, and families. It transcends the walls of Vanguard University and puts Vanguard’s incredible music department on display in one of the most established and beautiful venues in Orange County. It truly is a remarkable opportunity for students performing and the community alike. and looking back, I can fondly say that Fantasia is something I always enjoyed doing and will continue to enjoy attending for years and years to come!
Lauren Francis ’10
Vanguard Choir Alumni